The Spanish tourism sector is still a long way from its pre-pandemic success.
The latest official figures for international traveler arrivals and spending show a substantial improvement over 2020, the year everything went dark for tourism, but there is still a long way to go before the recovery is complete.
The Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) published this week the data corresponding to December and the whole of the year 2021.
In 2021, Spain received 31.1 million tourists, a figure that represents 64.4% more than in 2020. But it is still 62.7% below the result achieved in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019, Spain was visited by 83.7 million tourists.
In fact, the coronavirus has spoiled a sector that before pandemic represented more than 12.4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the INE. In 2020, that percentage contracted to 5.5%, the lowest in the entire historical series.
Something similar has happened over the last two years with the money that international visitors leave in the country.
According to the INE, non-resident tourists who visited Spain during the year 2021 spent 34,8 billion euros, which represented an increase of 76% compared to 2020.
However, compared with the 2019 figure, total spending was 62.1% lower.
The country that spent the most in Spain in 2021 was Germany, with more than 6 billion euros, 129.4% more than in 2020. It was followed by the United Kingdom (4,7 billion and an increase of 52.3%) and France (4,4 billion, 82.9% more).
Countries of origin, destinations
In 2021, the main countries of residence of tourists who visited Spain were France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The arrival of tourists residing in France increased by 49.7%, that of those from Germany by 117.3% and that of those who came from the United Kingdom by 36.3%.
The Balearic Islands was the main region of destination, with 20.3% of the total number of tourists, followed by Catalonia (18.5%) and the Canary Islands (16.9%).