During 2016, 277,913 pilgrims received Compostela’s in Santiago, this is up from 262,458 during 2015. 2016 was also a special Holy Year, The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy which started from December 8, 2015, through to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, on November 20, 2016. Typically in a Holy Year, the number of pilgrims receiving their Compostela jumps by 100,000 as compared to the previous year. While this did not happen in 2016, the numbers for 2016 did exceed the numbers for the last Holy Year in 2010.
As expected the popularity of the Camino de Santiago continues to grow. Our American cousins and fellow pilgrims have produced a wonderful chart showing the dramatic increase each year since 1986.
During the last ten years, the number of pilgrims receiving their Compostela annually has increased by 100,000 or 177%. The Camino Frances remains the most popular route. The number of pilgrims walking or cycling this way has more than doubled over the past decade. However its popularity as compared to the other routes, as the percentage of total of all people, has fallen from 82% to 63%. Instead, growing in popularity is the Camino Portugues which has grown from just over 6,467 pilgrim in 2006 to 52,145 in 2016, and it is now the second most popular route. In fact, many of the lesser known routes including the Via de la Plata, the Camino del Norte and Camino Primitivo continue to grow faster than the Camino Frances.
The mixture of people walking vs cycling remains generally the same. However there has been a steady increase in the number of females over males. Twenty years ago, the number of men exceeded the number of women by a factor of two. Back in 2006, this ratio had fallen to 1.45 and in the 2016, the ratio was almost even with 52% men and 48% women.
And more and more pilgrims are over 60 years of age, an increase from 6% in 2006, to 18% in 2016.
2017 is not a Holy Year, the next Holy Year is 2021, but it is expected that the number of pilgirms walking and cycling the Camino with continue to grow.