Madrid, Jan 4 (EFE).- The Spanish tourism sector, a motor of the country’s economy, showed tentative signs of recovery in 2021 with a surge in foreign visitors and spending, the national statistics office (INE) said in a report Tuesday.
Spain welcomed 28.2 million foreign tourists in the first 11 months of 2021, some 9.9 million more than the previous year, when the country was plunged into a strict lockdown in spring.
Tourist spending between January and November last year increased by 63.8% to 31.2 billion euros, the INE report said.
In November alone, some 3.3 million visitors arrived in Spain, a 633% increase from the same period in 2020 and 72% of pre-pandemic levels, the ministry for industry, trade and tourism said in a statement.
Tourism minister Reyes Maroto said the data “confirms that the recovery of international tourism continued its gradual advance in November, despite the rise in cases in our main European markets.”
“Month after month, we see how Spain is getting closer to tourism and spending numbers in 2019, although the uncertainty associated with the current wave could delay the return to pre-pandemic levels.”
Brits continue to make up the largest contingent of foreign tourists in Spain, followed by the French and the Germans.
Spain was the second-most visited country in the world in 2019, behind France, and tourism drove the country’s economy, accounting for 12.4% of annual GDP.
The first year of the pandemic brought the industry to a halt and the weight of the sector fell to represent just 5.5% of GDP. EFE