International tourists: figures still low, yet there are positive signs

by Deborah Cater
International tourists figures are low, yet dropis not as low as previous months
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In March, 490,088 international tourists came to Spain, 75.5% less than in the same month of 2020. It is the smallest decrease since July last year, data published by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) shows.

For 13 months since March last year, Spain has seen a significant drop in both the number of international tourists and spending as a result of Covid-19. According to the INE, foreign tourist spending in March was €513million (76.4% less than March 2020). This is the lowest year-on-year drop in spending since March last year, when it fell by 64%.

Compared to the figures before the pandemic, the number of international tourists in Spain has fallen by 85.7%. Spending has also decreased, this time by 91.5%.

Expenditure and travel duration by international tourists

Expenditure by foreign visitors between January and March was €1,289million, 89% less than in the same period last year.

In March, the average expenditure per tourist was €1,046, a decrease of 3.9% compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the average daily expenditure decreased by 16.9% to €128. In the first quarter of 2021, German travellers spent the most (16.4% of the total), followed by French (15.2%) and northern countries combined (5.9%).

International tourists spent an average of 8.2 days in Spain in March; an increase of 1.1 days compared to the average for March 2020. French, Germans and Italians visited Spain most often.

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Transport and accommodation

In the first quarter of the year, the number of tourists visiting Spain decreased by 88.6%. Most travellers (329,330) arrived in Spain by air, a decrease of 79.7% compared to last year. Tourists arriving by train decreased by 13.2%, by road 56.1% and by boat 88.8%.

The number of tourists choosing paid accommodation in March fell by 76.5%. Bookings of hotel accommodation fell by 74.3% and of rented accommodation by 89.2%. The number of people who stayed in their own home (-52%) or with friends (-79.7%) also decreased. On average, this means a decrease of 72.2%.

Most popular destination

The Canary Islands were the most popular international tourist destination in March with 20.5% of the total (261,373 international tourists), followed by Catalonia (17.5% = 224,907) and the Madrid sub-region (14.2% = 146,505). But these figures also represent a huge decrease for these sub-regions: Canary Islands (-90.4%), Catalonia (-89.9%) and the Community of Madrid (-89.4%).

The Balearic Islands welcomed 43.3% fewer tourists, and the Valencia region 81.1%. Andalucia’s arrivals dropped by as much as 82.9%.

The Canary Islands were the largest destination for all tourists in March: 28.6% of the total. The Madrid sub-region (18%) and Catalonia (13.3%) followed. For the Canary Islands this means a decrease of 76% compared to March 2020. The Madrid sub-region saw a decrease of 71.2% and Catalonia a decrease of 82.9%. The other autonomous communities also saw a decrease in spending.

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