The expected recovery in tourism, a vital sector for Spain’s economy, did not come as expected this summer.
4.4 million tourists arrived in the country in July, 78% more than last year. An encouraging figure, no doubt. But it’s still 55% less than in the same month of 2019, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The overall balance for the year is not more optimistic either. Between January and July 2021, 9.8 million foreigners entered Spain. The data is even below the 13.2 that accumulated in that month in 2020 and is 80% lower than the 47.9 million that arrived in 2019.
“The covid passport designed by the European Union has been of little use. The expected confidence that a single document would provide for mobility between countries has not been generated. On the contrary, each country has set its rules and that has generated a lot of uncertainty and has significantly harmed us ”, assures Carlos Abella, secretary general of the Tourism Board.
A group of tourists arrives at the international airport of Mallorca. Photo: REUTERS
Balearic Islands lead the recovery: three out of ten foreign tourists chose the islands as their destination. The nature of these restrictions marked the profile of the visitors. The British and Germans, who were historically the most numerous, yielded the leadership to the French.
From France, 874,189 tourists arrived in July, representing 19.9% of the total and an increase of 46.6% compared to July 2020. Germany, in second place, contributed 707,331 visitors (64.5% more in rate annual) and the United Kingdom 555,183 (6.5% more, although the borders were almost closed).
The sector makes a bittersweet balance of the situation. “National tourism has behaved very well, it has exceeded pre-covid levels, especially in beach areas. And it has made it possible to save the season, but it does not compensate for the fall of the international ”, acknowledges Abella.
A similar analysis is made by the Hospitality Industry of Spain. “The situation has been uneven. Overall, there has been a significant recovery compared to 2020, in some areas with figures higher than 2019, but the turnover remains on average between 20 and 30% below that of 2019 ”, they point out.
Relief in the Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands is one of the communities where the tourist recovery was most noticeable, to the point that three out of ten foreign tourists who traveled to Spain in July chose the islands.
The Balearic president, Francina Armengol, met this Wednesday with the main tourist representatives of the archipelago and stressed that the community already receives two thirds of the tourism that arrived in 2019.
The Balearic government makes a moderately positive balance of the tourist data for this season, despite the fact that some businessmen, such as the CEO of Melià, Gabriel Escarrer, specified that this has been a “disastrous” year when compared to the one before the pandemic.
Tourists on the terrace of a hotel in Madrid, in June. Photo: REUTERS
No to “drunken tourism”
Hoteliers on the islands are asking for action to be taken to eradicate drunken tourism, which is not profitable and damages the image of the archipelago, especially in some parts of Mallorca and Eivissa.
“We must rethink the tourism model that interests us,” said Escarrer after the meeting with Armengol.
The second destination by number of arrivals was Catalonia, where 814,310 international tourists traveled, 86.4% more than last year.
By Pilar Blázquez and Nekane D. Hermoso, La Vanguardia