Number of foreign tourists in Spain triples this summer

by Lorraine Williamson
tourism in Spain

MADRID – Between June and September, there were almost three times as many foreign tourists in Spain as in the same period last year. Yet, the nearly 16.5 million foreigners who chose a holiday in Spain this year are only half the number of tourists of 2019. 

In the last high-season month of September, almost 4.7 million foreign tourists came to Spain. This is almost 5 times as many as in September last year. 2020 is therefore the worst year for Spanish tourism since the late 1960s. 

National tourism has grown 

To be precise, 56.2% fewer tourists came to Spain this summer than in the year before the corona pandemic. However, that is a completely different story for national tourism. Because last summer even more Spaniards opted for a holiday in their own country than in 2019. So there is growth in this area instead of recovery as such. 

Minister Reyes Maroto of Industry, Commerce and Tourism has stated in a press release that he is convinced the current recovery of the foreign market will continue. And, furthermore that the level will be equal to that of 2019 in the summer of 2022. However, the sector itself is somewhat less optimistic and sees this full recovery only in late 2022 or early 2023. 

66% recovery expected in 2021 

The minister is also optimistic about the remainder of 2021: between 10.7 and 10.9 million foreign tourists are expected to come to Spain. This would represent a recovery of 66%. This fact, together with the recovery in the labour market and the decrease in the number of employees with a temporary unemployment scheme ERTE, means the Spanish economy can breathe a little easier.

Most tourists from Germany 

Most foreign tourists came from Germany last September, which was 829,269 (17.7% of all travelers from abroad). That was an increase of 841.2% compared to September last year. After Germany, the most tourists in September came from the UK (785,478) and France (687,480). Particularly important is the increase in the number of British tourists. They are an important market for Spain and had stayed away due to the strict rules of the British government. 

Until September, foreign tourists together spent €21,938 million in Spain. That is 23.6% more than in the same period last year. However, it is still 70% less than in the same period in 2019. 

Balearic Islands are the favourite 

The most favorite region for foreign travelers in September was the Balearic Islands. No less than a quarter of all foreign tourists went there. That was almost 1.2 million, more than half of whom came from Germany and the UK. Catalonia, number 2, was visited by 867,500 travellers in September, and Andalucia, number 3, with 687,383 foreign tourists. 

Even when looking at the period from January to September 2021, the Balearic Islands remains the favourite region. With just over 5 million tourists, that was an increase of 217% compared to the same period last year (but still 58% less than the same period in 2019). The same goes for Catalonia at number 2 with just over 3.7 million visitors and Andalucia at number 3 with just under 2.6 million visitors. 

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