Spain aims for tourist numbers to hit half of pre-pandemic levels in 2021

‘This, for the industry, would be an achievement,’ says tourism minister

Helen Coffey
Monday 22 March 2021 15:06 GMT
<p>Valencia on Spain’s east coast</p>

Valencia on Spain’s east coast

Spain aims for tourist numbers to hit half of pre-pandemic levels this year.

The country’s tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, said that was the current “goal”.

“Maybe the ideal goal get half of the tourists we had in 2019, she told Europa Press. “This, for the industry, would be an achievement.”

If successful in this aim, Spain would welcome around 40 million visitors in 2021 – half the 80 million or so tourists that visited in 2019.

It’s an ambitious target considering that in 2020 the nation received just 25 per cent of the previous year’s visitors: around 19 million, the lowest number on record since 1969.

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Tourism accounts for around 12 per cent of GDP in Spain, and one in eight jobs.

The country has been vocal in its desire to open back up to visitors this summer.

Ms Maroto previously said that Spain could start using a vaccine passport to enable smoother travel this spring.

Speaking to a local TV station, she said that the country could introduce a vaccine passport scheme in May, which coincides with the date the international tourism fair FITUR is due to take place in Madrid.

“We could be in a position to start implementing the digital passport (when FITUR starts on 19 May)”, she told Antena 3 TV station.

Spain is the most-visited country by British tourists, and has signalled over the past few months that it is ready to welcome UK visitors back as soon as possible.

However, fears of a third-wave of coronavirus infections across Europe could put paid to long awaited travel plans once again.

Scientists have warned foreign holidays in July and August present “a real risk” of bringing Covid variants back into the UK.

International travel this summer is “extremely unlikely” for holidaymakers, a government adviser said, as cases rise exponentially in parts of Europe.

Dr Mike Tildesley, associate professor of infectious disease modelling at Warwick University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, in August, because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country.”

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