Tourists back in Spain but far fewer than before Covid

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In the first seven months of 2021, 9.8 million tourists arrived in Spain compared with 47.9 million in the same period in 2019. (AFP/Jaime Reina)

The arrival of foreign tourists in Spain shot up in July compared with a year earlier although the numbers remain far from the levels reached in the same month in 2019, before the pandemic, official figures showed Wednesday.

During the month, 4.4 million foreign tourists visited Spain, an increase of 78.3 percent on the year earlier when the country was reeling from the Covid pandemic, National Institute of Statistics (INE) figures showed.

The largest number of visitors were French with 874,000 arrivals, a year-on-year increase of 46.6 percent, followed by 707,000 arrivals from Germany (up 64.5 percent) and 555,000 from Britain (up 46.5 percent).

The top destination was the Balearic Islands, which accounted for 30 percent of all visits, followed by the northeastern Catalonia region with 18.5 percent.

Tourist spending reached 5.2 billion euros ($6.1 billion), a 112 percent increase on the same month in 2020.

Before the pandemic hit in spring 2020, Spain was the world's second-most popular tourist destination after France, and the sector accounted for around 12 percent of the economy.

Although the figures show an improvement in Spain's key tourism sector, the figures are far from pre-pandemic levels, raising doubts over its ability to fully recover.

In the first seven months of 2021, 9.8 million tourists arrived in Spain compared with 47.9 million in the same period in 2019.

Over the same period, accumulated tourist spending reached 11.9 billion euros compared with 40.3 billion euros in 2019.

The Spanish government had said it was hoping to attract around 45 million tourist visits this year, approximately half the figure for 2019.

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