MADRID – Two years after the coronavirus rocked Spain, Spaniards have finally been able to enjoy a practically normal Easter week. The festivities in 2020 were marked by house arrest and in 2021 by the closure of borders between autonomous communities. However, this year it was hard to find any differences with Semana Santa tourism before the pandemic.
The Spanish traffic authority DGT estimated that between Wednesday and Sunday there will have been a total of 8.4 million car journeys during the holiday week, an average of 1.4 million journeys per day. In total, that is an estimated 14.6 million car trips, 2% more than in 2019.
Excluding the public holidays that are ending across the country, Monday is still a public holiday in Valencia, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, La Rioja, Navarre, and the Basque Country. Therefore, images of long traffic jams jostling for the gates of major cities were once again seen on Sunday.
Sunday evening crowded roads
Around eight o’clock on Sunday evening, the country’s main motorways, with the exception of the A-2, experienced slow traffic in some places along their routes towards Madrid. On the AP-4 there were also heavy traffic jams in the direction of Seville. And slow traffic in and around the Barcelona area.
Plane and train
The figures for air travel were very similar to those prior to 2019. The airport operator AENA expected to operate only 11% fewer flights on Sunday than in 2019. However, the same cannot be said for trains. Renfe sold only two million seats this week, compared to three million before the pandemic.
Beautiful weather boosts Semana Santa tourism
Clear skies and higher than usual temperatures for this time of year have boosted tourism across the country. The traditional images of processions, beaches full of tourists looking for the first swim of the year and even ski slopes running at full speed were back.
In anticipation of hotel occupancy rates, the Spanish Federation of Associations of Tourist Houses and Apartments (Fevitur) has reported that rental properties have reached an occupancy rate of 75%. This is a good figure, achieved mainly through domestic tourism during Semana Santa. Travellers’ preferred destinations were Aragon, Cantabria, Extremadura, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha. As for hotels – for which the data for the whole country is not yet known – entrepreneurs predicted even before the holidays that the occupancy data would be very positive and similar to that of 2019.