Tourists in Estepona on the Costa del Sol. / EFE

Foreign tourist numbers plummet in Spain to just 14% of 2019 levels

In the first six months of the year only 273,000 British tourists visited Spain according to official figures, compared to almost 2.1 million in June 2019 alone

EDURNE MARTÍNEZ

The end of Spain's state of alarm and the lifting of restrictions on European and international travel - with a Covid-19 vaccination passport - has not helped travel take off as much as the country's tourism sector had hoped for.

Official data from the national INE statistics office has revealed that Spain received only 5.4 million international visitors in the first half of the year until June, which is just 14.2 per cent compared to the 38 million tourists who arrived in the first six months of 2019.

Even in 2020, the first six months in the year of the pandemic closed with 10.8 million tourists, double the number of 2021, mainly due to the good performance of the sector in the first three months of the year before the coronavirus crisis broke out in Spain.

In the first six months of this year, foreign tourists spent 5,765 million euros, half the amount of 2020 and nothing compared with 2019, when the sector's income exceeded 39 million euros in this period.

Much of the loss of tourists and income is due to the fact that the United Kingdom, which has always been one of the key markets, is nowhere near the top of the list of countries that have sent most tourists, so far, in 2021. The largest numbers of foreign visitors have been from France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.

In fact, until June only 273,000 Britons arrived in Spain, according to the INE figures, due to the restrictions imposed by the United Kingdom Government on tourism. In order to get an idea of the collapse of the market, almost 2.1 million Britons arrived in Spain in June 2019 alone.