Spain looks forward to traditional April Semana Santa celebration

by Lorraine Williamson
Semana Santa

The tourism industry in Spain has pinned all hopes for a normal Semana Santa celebration in 2022. After being cancelled two years in a row, this year´s celebration will be a major boost for the much-needed recovery.

The tourism sector suffered another blow when the Omicron variant ended the expected activity during the Christmas period. However, bit by bit, the catering industry is recovering in the first quarter. But the figures are by no means comparable with the situation before the pandemic. Therefore, a traditional Semana Santa celebration in April is more than welcome for the sector. 

Hope mainly based on national tourism 

The airline sector hopes travellers who cancelled flights during the Christmas period will choose Easter as an alternative. Furthermore, expectations are high for the spring and summer months that follow. However, this sector is not counting on a return to pre-pandemic levels any time soon. As for Semana Santa, the hospitality, aviation and train sectors are mainly counting on a strong revival of national tourism. Then, from April, they also expect a gradual increase in international tourism activity. 

Nevertheless, it remains difficult for the hospitality and transport sectors to predict how the recovery will unfold. In November, before the arrival of the Omicron variant, the number of reservations for December was only 15% lower compared to the peak in 2019. However, a large part of this was then cancelled. The new virus variant has therefore ensured that the tourist alliance Exceltur sees a decrease in activities of more than 33% for this first quarter compared to 2019. This means that the Omicron variant has more than doubled the loss compared to 2019. 

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It is hoped for a decrease of just under 12% (compared to 2019) in the second quarter. This is not least because of Semana Santa. Looking only at national tourism, a growth of 4% is expected between April and June compared to 2019. Due to the pandemic and travel restrictions in other countries, Spaniards are more likely to opt for a holiday in their own country next spring. 

Further recovery from summer 

According to a forecast by Exceltur, the difference (of activity in the tourism sector) with 2019 will be only 7% in the third quarter and only 5.5% in the fourth quarter. This would increase the gross domestic product (GDP) of the tourism sector by 52.9% in all of 2022. If that actually happens, the sector will close the year 2022 with an 88.5% recovery in December compared to 2019. 

The Spanish Association of Airlines ALA foresees an unpredictable 2022, but stabilisation at the end of 2023 with a level comparable to 2019. For this year, the ALA sees the problem not so much in tourists’ fear of flying, but mainly in tightened travel restrictions by national governments, which time and again throw a spanner in the works. 

Related post: Fiestas, ferias and celebrations in Spain 2022

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