By Sydney Ramgolam and Stefanie Müller

In spite of the ongoing economic crisis, certain sectors of the Spanish economy have remained extremely lucrative, for instance tourism. This sector is still a job machine, at least a seasonal one. As far back as the 1950s, Spain has been a huge tourist destination for people all over Europe as well as the Americas. With its beautiful weather and beaches, and rich cultural history, Spain has been an important vacation spot for hundreds of thousands of people each year and the tourism industry continues to generate a significant portion of Spain’s GDP. However, Spain is not only a popular tourist destination; it also attracts the largest number of European university students participating in the EU-sponsored ERASMUS student exchange program. Likewise, it is the third most popular destination for American students behind the UK and Italy. These facts have not changed since the start of the economic crisis.

Spain is very well connected

The Madrid Office of Tourism is taking advantage of this fact. Spain is one of the best-connected countries of Europe. Because of its geographical location as the westernmost point of Europe and its amazing infrastructure, Spain has become an not only a prime destination for students and vacationers, but also an important point of contact between the US and the EU for business. The US has the second highest number of direct flights to Spain following Italy, with flights from 10 different major cities along the east coast.

Through these efforts, Spain is breaking into the worldwide market in a way it hasn’t been able to do in the past. Despite the presence of Spanish companies abroad, there is a conspicuous shortcoming as concerns the Spanish image abroad. Companies such as Zara, Santander, Iberdrola, and the construction company ACS all operate in the US, but under names not immediately associated with Spain. By increasing the willingness of foreign companies to host their meetings and events in Spain, the Madrid Office of Tourism is simultaneously lessening the stigma associated with being Spanish or of being in crisis.

The tourism sector is as well a good way for young students to learn the language during a summer job.