French tourists visiting Spain have outnumbered British holidaymakers for the first time ever this year.
Britain has been knocked off its traditional top spot as Spain’s most important foreign tourism market for the first time in decades by French tourists. The UK has been Spain’s most important foreign tourist market for decades after it began to open up to northern European holidaymakers as a sun and sea destination under former dictator Francisco Franco.
Spain first became Britain’s favourite holiday destination nearly 20 years ago. However it is the French holidaymakers that are now choosing the country more than Brits or Germans in a historic reversal of the sunshine destination’s overall tourism figures.
Few sectors of Spain’s economy have suffered as strong and prolonged damage from the coronavirus as tourism. The numbers of visitors that Spain is receiving each month still pales in comparison to records prior to the pandemic.
Although domestic tourism- staycations- have experienced an unprecedented boom during the pandemic, it has not been enough to compensate for the absence of the millions of foreigners- mainly Brits- that chose europes favourite destination- Spain- for their holidays.
In August 2021, just 5.2 million international tourists visited Spain, which is half of those who arrived in the same month of 2019. From March 2020 to August of the same year, a total of 6.2 million French travellers passed through Spain, double the 3.1 million British that did so in the same period. In fact, one in four of the 25 million foreigners who have passed through Spain during the pandemic were French, and in August 20% of the spending of all foreign tourism (1,183 of 5,900 million euros) came from France.
According to the Spanish Statistics Institute (INE), the increase was spotted in arrivals from France, with 874,189 tourists, accounting for 19.9 per cent of all arrivals, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports. Furthermore, 707,331 tourists came from Germany (64.5 per cent more than last year) and 555,183 tourists from the UK, recording a 46.5 per cent increase to 2020.
“The summer has been very good. We have hotels that have even done better than in August 2019,” the president of AC Hotels by Marriott, Antonio Catalon, said for El Pais.
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