Statistics, as we know, can be used to prove anything, and when it comes to tourism statistics, there is no measure more open to interpretation than that for tourist spending. Depending on where one stands on a particular argument, however, the spending stats can be called upon to provide useful support, even perhaps by those who would normally call the stats into question.
The Egatur survey of tourist spending is primarily a tool designed to give the Bank of Spain data for calculating the balance of payments. In this respect it does need to be pretty accurate, despite people often not believing it. A reason for questioning it is that it can seem as if it doesn't correspond with the realities of some resorts. How often does one hear someone complain that no one's spending any money, yet Egatur insists that spending is going up?
The survey isn't and cannot be totally comprehensive, but one has to accept that it is a reflection of variance in the tourism market: not all resorts are the same, not all tourists are the same. But there is one significant ingredient in Egatur that can skew the spending statistics: the cost of the holiday. If this is a package holiday, bought from a foreign tour operator, then much of this spending element never touches the destination. Take away the package and factor in direct bookings, and a more realistic figure is attained; realistic in terms of what goes into local economies.
Egatur does, therefore, seek to reflect the different types of holiday, and the latest survey provides some ammunition for the pro-holiday rentals lobby. Again, not all of the spending is in the destination, if the rentals booking is, say, made via a foreign agency, but for the most part it will be. And where Egatur is concerned, it doesn't distinguish between the nature of rentals - they could be legal, they could be illegal, they could be ones made under the terms of the tenancy act.
Anyway, the survey shows that tourists who last year stayed in holiday rental accommodation (which falls under what Egatur broadly defines as the "rest of the market") spent almost 24% more than tourists who stayed in hotels. The average spend per tourist in non-hotel accommodation was 1,295 euros, and it increased by 20% over 2016. Another survey, the Frontur one that measures foreign tourist arrivals, offered some symmetry in this regard: there was a 20% rise in foreign tourists staying in holiday rentals.
The figures are for the whole of the country, but they clearly tell a story where the Balearics are concerned. Importantly, Egatur (and Frontur) are about as independent as one can get in measuring tourism performance. There are no agendas, which isn't always the case with studies that emanate from rival factions in the rentals argument, most notably the Exceltur alliance for touristic excellence and the Aptur holiday rentals association. Egatur, while noting that spending by tourists in hotels increased by ten per cent, does provide greater support for the Aptur stance than Exceltur's.
As I say, the stats can prove what you want them to, but here - despite the questions that surround the Egatur methodology - is some evidence of what many have long argued: holiday rental tourists spend more.