Spanish tourism closes with a summer season to forget

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summer season
Half empty British Airways flight. Credit-Twitter

TOURISM in Spain has closed the worst summer season in its history due to the uncertainty of the health crisis and an unprecedented year so far.

The arrival of foreign tourists was practically nil in June. In July, about 2.5 million international travellers visited the country, 75 per cent less than a year ago despite the reopening of borders. While in August, the main holiday month of the summer season, the collapse was even greater and only 2.4 million visited Spain.

For the president of the Tourism Board, Juan Molas, the data is “devastating, dramatic and catastrophic” and to them is added the “absolute uncertainty” that the sector is facing in the coming months, conditioned by the unpredictable advance of the pandemic and the arrival of an effective vaccine or treatment.

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The sector was confident that the reopening of external borders and the freedom of internal movement from June 21 would encourage tourist demand in the summer season. “There was a small light on the horizon and, after the end of the state of alarm, there was a rebound in reserves for July, August and September,” explains Mola.

However, within a few weeks, there was an increase in the number of cases and the fear of contagion triggered the cancellations. Later came the recommendations not to travel to Spain and the quarantines imposed by countries such as the United Kingdom, the main issuing destination. This caused hotel reservations to plummet.

“The summer season collapsed in mid-August when we still had the chance to recover at least a part of what was lost,” says the president, who fears that this crisis will continue until well into 2021.


The forecasts are not optimistic. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that Spain will not recover its pre-pandemic tourism indices until the end of 2021. While the Bank of Spain is pushing the recovery further away and assuming that the tourism crisis will continue in our country for at least two more years.

So far this year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has lowered its traffic forecast for 2020, forecasting a weaker-than-expected recovery following a “disastrous” end to the summer travel season. As expected, traffic for the entire year 2020 will be reduced by 66 per cent compared to 2019.

In this context, businessmen have been forced to an early closing of the summer season. Not even the call for the mobilisation of national tourism and the fall in hotel prices by almost 10 per cent have helped to offset the disaster.


Thus, the year in which there would be more than 84 million international travellers and which would bring Spain closer to the first place in the ranking of the main world tourist destinations, has finally closed with a record, yes, but in negative.

From the Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur) they raise the losses of the sector for 2020 to 98,753 million euros and describe the situation as “unusual and bleak”, with a drop in tourist activity of 64.7 per cent compared to the previous year. The employers consider that this collapse would explain more than half of the fall in the Spanish Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for this year, due to the notable weight that tourism has in the Spanish economy.

“We have only seen the tip of the iceberg of what is to come,” says the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Gloria Guevara, who believes that the coronavirus crisis will unleash a wave of insecurity, poverty and illegal immigration. “Companies are closing, they are facing bankruptcies … an unprecedented social crisis is approaching,” she predicts.

Thank you for reading this article “Spanish tourism closes with a summer season to forget”.

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