Spanish tourism sector dealt severe blow in first quarter

Numbers of British tourists, for whom Spain is among the favourite destinations, fell by 96%. [EFE/ David Arquimbau Sintes]

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to badly affect Spain’s tourism sector, which in the first quarter of the year saw an 82% drop in the number of international tourists it welcomed compared to the same period of 2020, from 10.6 million to only 1.8 million. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

The largest group foreign tourists visiting Spain in the first three months of 2021 came from France (numbers down 69%), according to data released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute (INE) on Tuesday (1 June), followed by Germans (down 74%) and Italians (down 79%).

Numbers of British tourists, for whom Spain is among the favourite destinations, fell by 96%, the INE revealed.

Spain’s tourist sector accounted for 12.4% of the country’s GDP in 2019. 

However, the COVID-19 pandemic heavily affected the nation’s hospitality industries, with the government implementing a temporary lay-off scheme known as ERTE to protect almost 3 million jobs in the sector in 2020.  Some 600,000 workers are still recipients of the scheme.

Spain aims to boost COVID-stricken tourism sector with new campaign

Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto this week urged foreigners to start preparing for their getaway in Spain now, stressing that the conditions in the country allowed for the resumption of international and domestic travel. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports. 

German tourists spent the most 

German tourists were the biggest spenders in Spain the period, the INE report shows, followed by French and Scandinavian visitors.

The Canary Islands topped the list of Spanish destinations for foreign tourists, followed by Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, the figures show.

Spain clocked up around 1.3 million overnight stays in hotels by foreign tourists in the period, down 84% compared with last year.Leisure was the main reason for travelling to Spain for nearly 1.1 million tourists, while 387,670 foreigners visited the country for business. 

[Edited by Daniel Eck and Josie Le Blond]

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