The consumption of foreigners in the third quarter will be 53% lower than in 2019, but in the fourth it will only be 15% lower
All the organizations point out that most of the growth of Spain this year depends on the recovery of tourism. And the figures are not bad: during the summer the spending of national tourists has been higher than expected, although foreign demand has suffered due to the new variants of the virus and the greater restrictions on travel in many countries that typically send tourists to Spain. like Germany and UK.
But with the end of summer a new panorama opens up. The autumn-winter season has historically been the high season in regions as touristy as the Canary Islands due to the arrival of thousands of Nordic, German, Italian and British tourists beyond September. Spaniards return to their routines and you can no longer count on that income for hotels and restaurants as it happened in July and August, so it all depends on the volume of foreign arrivals.
In 2019, before the pandemic, 84.5 million tourists arrived in Spain, a record year. These levels are not expected to be repeated at least until 2023, but this year will be the beginning of the recovery, with calculations predicting half of this volume. The forecasts of the tourist association Exceltur point to the tourist consumption of foreigners in the third quarter being 53.3% lower than in 2019, while in the fourth it is already only 15.5% lower. Thus, tourism GDP will reach 82,000 million euros this year according to its forecasts, still 47% below the almost 155,000 in 2019, but well above the only 53,000 million with which 2020 closed.
Even the figures may be better given the latest news from the UK, which has announced that vaccinated people will no longer need prior PCR to enter the country after their holidays. In this way, the cost and bureaucracy of travel will be greatly simplified as of October 4. They will no longer have to do a test prior to departure and when they return, one of the antigens will work, cheaper than PCR.
In addition, they have eliminated their traffic light system to classify countries based on their incidence, where Spain had always been in amber, and only the green list – where our country is – and the red list will remain, which will require a PCR on the way out and two on the way back. This relaxation of measures has been welcomed by the tourism sector, and more so now that British students have a week of vacation in October and families will be able to travel easier.
Therefore, everything indicates that the forecasts of the Ministry of Tourism will be fulfilled to end the year with 50% of the volume of tourists in 2019. In its latest report on the matter, the Bank of Spain concludes that there has been a “greater dynamism »In recent weeks, which would suggest a« negative gap »of around 54%. Even so, he believes that the evolution of the sector is determined by the pandemic, but also by “how certain structural changes in the habits of tourists or business travelers materialize”, due to the greater introduction of teleworking.
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Domestic demand push
In the same sense, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) itself points out, which, when asked by this newspaper, recognizes that “there is still great uncertainty around the recovery of foreign tourism in 2021.” But he calculates that in July the arrivals and expenditure of visitors to Spain was 45% compared to 2019, in line with expectations, and that there will be “some recovery” in the second half of the year, although “the main driver of the economic recovery will continue to be domestic demand ».
Part of this internal demand comes from the Imserso trips for retirees, which if nothing goes wrong will begin in October. “They will be a clear push for the sector in a difficult season for them,” explains José Ángel Montes, analyst at Solunion Spain. Even so, it recognizes that in absolute terms the impact is “limited” and that both hotels and agencies are already offering packages aimed at the same population.
For this reason, hoteliers will continue to avail themselves of the ERTE to avoid the destruction of “thousands of jobs” now that “the mirage of the summer season” has passed. From CEHAT they warn of a “very complicated” autumn-winter season with establishments that will have to close again due to lack of tourists. For this reason, the tourism sector will be one of the great beneficiaries of the extension of the ERTE, although as of November they will have new conditions and different aids depending on the training.
Proximity trips but increasing the budget
Spaniards have traveled close to home this summer, even millions of them have become tourists in their own communities. After the appearance of the covid, Spaniards have traveled an average of 12 kilometers less on their trips, 13.6% lower than before the pandemic, according to data from the Weekendesk tourist portal. By communities, Murcians (53 km) and Catalans (56 km) are those who have chosen closer destinations, while Extremadura (139 km) and Madrid (132 km) are the ones who have traveled further this summer.
But traveling close to home has not meant spending little. Rather the other way around. The average for these holidays was 242 euros per person, 11% more than before the pandemic. In addition, the data indicates that the average stay also increased by 7%, revealing closer but longer getaways.
The data collected by the online agency eBooking is even higher, calculating an expense for each Spaniard of 315 euros in accommodation on these holidays, 50% more than last summer. The vast majority (83%) have stayed in Spain, and those who have decided to travel abroad have decided to visit neighboring cities such as Lisbon, Porto and Rome. The Navarrese are the ones who have spent the most on these holidays and the Valencians, the ones who have spent the least.