28th January 2023
People sunbathing on Barceloneta beach in Barcelona in 2019
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Spain saw full recovery of tourism in 2022, with income higher than pre-Covid level

Spain’s income from tourism activity surged in 2022, surpassing levels last seen before the Covid-19 pandemic, the Exceltur tourism association said on Tuesday.

The association, an ‘Alliance for Excellency in Tourism’ formed by the chairmen of 33 leading Spanish tourist groups, said in a report that last year’s tourism earnings reached an estimated €159 billion, an increase of 1.4% on 2019, beating expectations notably in the second half, marking ‘the full recovery of tourism activity in Spain’.

Although the figures showed the tourism sector accounted for 12.2% of the Spanish economy last year, it remained slightly lower than the 12.6% registered in 2019.

‘In contrast to the many predictions to the contrary, which were proved wrong during the second half, 2022 marked the full recovery of tourism activity in Spain,’ it said in a statement.

After a ‘dazzling surge in tourist numbers’ last summer, Spain had expressed confidence it would achieve a full recovery in the hope of regaining its pre-pandemic status as the world’s second-favourite holiday destination behind France.

The recovery was largely driven by national tourism which saw a ‘significant increase … that started in April’.

Although the number of foreign visitors was 14.6% lower than in 2019, spending only fell by 3.8% between January and November, with the lower numbers offset by longer stays and a trend towards buying premium tourist products.

The most popular regions for foreign visitors were the sunny beaches of the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Andalusia.

Tourism is a strategic sector for Spain, and it had been the second most visited country in the world in 2019, receiving 83.7m visitors during the full year. The number of foreign tourists who visited during 2020, however, fell by over 80% to 19 million, the lowest figure since 1969

31.1 million international tourists visited Spain during 2021. The Spanish government had hoped to see 45 million foreign visitors in 2021, around half the pre-pandemic figure.

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