Welcome to Spain. Welcome to a country deep in recession where all you hear about is real estate crisis, banking crisis, debt crisis,downgrading, risk premium, speculation against Spain, 25 percent unemployment, bailing.
But we, who run in front of bulls for fun, aren’t about to complain or to feel sorry for ourselves, because what we see (you know, the “is the glass half-empty or half-full?” bit) is a country full of opportunity.
In the midst of the crisis we've already had some great news. Have we mentioned we’re the World and European football champions? But seriously, it’s not all about football. The Spanish tourism sector is at an all-time high. In 2011 tourism revenue grew by fourteen percent and we are the country with the second-highest tourism revenue in the world, second only to the United States. Last year we had 57 million foreign visitors. Spain has a population of 46 million, and that figure will be even higher in 2012.
Our exports of goods and services grew by 18% between 2009 and 2011, and we reduced our trade deficit balance significantly. We also reinforced our efforts to globalize our companies. Do you know who was leading the Panama canal expansion? Who is going to construct the first high-speed train in the Middle East between Mecca and Medina? A consortium of Spanish companies. Who manages airports in cities such as London, Orlando and Bogota? Who is going to construct offshore wind farmsin Scotland? Who supplies wind turbines to the world's leading economies? Who is building desalination plants in Adelaide and the Atacama Desert? Whose systems were used to manage most of your flight bookings to come here? Who Germany put in charge of their air-traffic control system, saving time and fuel? Who is developing a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease? Or who supplied the weather station for the Curiosity Mars rover?
- Dale a tu cuerpo alegría Macarena, eeeeeh Macarena!
Oops, sorry. Yeah, we did that too. That's right, Spanish companies are doing all these things and more, led by qualified creative sustainability-conscious professionals. Ironically in the midst of the banking crisis and according to Euromoney, we have the best bank in the world and another one that isn’t too far behind. Solid banks. Even while the industry has been shaken to its foundations. We have an innovative global telecommunications company able to provide service to over 300 million customers in twenty-five countries. Our companies are at the forefront of growth sectors such as cleantech, and 13% of our energy consumption comes from renewables. We are the world's leading country in installed solar energy and the fourth-largest in wind energy. We also have giants of the global fashion industry and multiple companies in this industry able to dress and supply footwear for the planet.
This is a country which today, in these turbulent times, is incubating a growing number of new dynamic companies ready to make the leap and take their place in the world rankings. The economic crisis is harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit endeavour and creativity of Spaniards. No matter what anybody says, we work as hard as we party.
But now let's talk about Grant Thornton Spain, where despite the current economic situation we're investing in top-level talent, in strategic sectors such as finance, insurance, cleantech, in reinforcement or expansion of our services (mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, outsourcing), all with the end of being right beside these companies at the most important stage of their development and helping them unlock their potential for growth and also growing with them, of course. We believe in the value of investing in advertising and institutional relations that reinforce the Grant Thornton brand. Investing in our clients’ satisfaction and in their loyalty. Investing in the continued training of our talent, and in new offices. Because we are going to be there with our current and future clients through thick and thin, making yourselves indispensable. We want to transmit our instinct for growth to everyone. In fact it's possible the current crisis is making us think about how we can do things better.
Okay guys, they say Spain is a fantastic country to live in. Perhaps it's because of our sunshine, our gastronomy or our diversity, or perhaps because of our health care system. After all, Spain has the third highest life expectancy in the world, according to the OCDE. We can raise that to number two if you're lucky enough to be female. I think we can also say that we have a big heart. Well, that's actually been proven, Spain has the highest organ donation rate in the world and last year the number of transplants increased by 12%, yet another reason to be optimistic.
Welcome to Spain. We hope you enjoy your stay.