This paper examines the role of tourism in the Spanish long-run economic development. The tourism-led growth hypothesis is confirmed through cointegration and causality testing. The results indicate that, at least, during the last three decades, economic growth in Spain has been sensible to persistent expansion of international tourism. The increase of this activity has produced multiplier effects over time. External competitivity has also been proved in the model to be a fundamental variable for Spanish economic growth. From the empirical analysis it can be inferred the positive effects on income that government policy, in the adequacy of supply as well as in the promotion of tourist activity, may bring about.