Spain counts the cost of dramatic drop in tourism arrivals for 2020

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By Luke Hurst
A comparison of foreign arrivals in Spain between the months of 2019 and 2020
A comparison of foreign arrivals in Spain between the months of 2019 and 2020   -   Copyright  Euronews   -   Instituto Nacional de Estadistica

Tourism has been one of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, a fact illustrated in Spain, which recorded a 75% fall in visitor numbers for July against last year.

The dramatic loss of tourism revenue for Spain will mean a huge hit for the country’s economy, as more than 12% of its GDP came from tourism in 2018 and 2019.

There were hopes of saving the summer season as European countries managed to get their coronavirus numbers down through lockdowns and restrictive measures, with Spain enforcing one of the strictest lockdowns in the world in March.

But with a resurgence of cases as those restrictions were lifted, the numbers for July - when the borders reopened - suggest those hopes have not been realised. The COVID-19 outbreak has made this the worst tourism season for Spain in decades.

According to the national statistics authority of Spain, just 2.5 million people international tourists visited the country in July, a 75% drop from last year which saw almost 10 million visitors. That followed the lockdown months of March, April, May and June, where in April and May there were no tourists at all.

Countries such as the UK and Germany - which contribute significant proportions of Spain’s usual tourist revenue - have imposed quarantine measures for arrivals from Spain, or red-listed many parts of the country due to its COVID-19 case numbers.

Visitors from over the border in France have continued to come to Spain, with nearly 600,000 visiting in July, but that's still a decrease of 58.4% on last July.

Tourist numbers from Germany and the UK are down 65.2% and 82.5% respectively from July last year.

The regions with the most dramatic drops in their numbers are Catalonia (81.6%) and the Madrid region (87.8%).

Spain now has more than 460,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, the most in Western Europe.