Spain's vaccination record has given visitors a level of comfort that encourages travel. Despite the current Omicron speed bump it will still be well positioned to rebound faster than other destinations.
The number of foreign tourists coming to Spain jumped fivefold in October from the same month a year ago to 5.13 million as an easing of travel curbs encouraged more to visit, data showed on Thursday.
However, numbers remained about a third down on October 2019, when 7.59 million foreigners travelled to Spain.
The figure was in line with Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto’s expectations. She said in November that she saw tourism recovering to 66% of 2019 levels in the fourth quarter.
In 2020, governments in Europe imposed strict travel restrictions to curb infections, though the new Omicron variant has brought uncertainty to the industry for the coming months.
Minister Maroto had said the reopening of commercial flights to the United States in early November would support the recovery in the fourth quarter.
On-line travel booking service eDreams registered a jump of bookings to Europe during the week following that announcement.
“Reservations to travel to Europe from the U.S. rose 140% from the same period a month earlier and 110% from the same period in 2019,” it said in a statement.
Spain ranks second as a European destination for U.S. tourists after France and before Britain, eDreams said.
But on Thursday, the United States reported its first Omicron case, while Spain’s first two cases were detected in late November.
In Spain, a country where tourism represented about 12% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, tourists spent a total of 5.59 billion euros ($6.33 billion) in October, up from around 864 million euros in the same month of 2020 but still much less than the 8.32 billion euros spent in October 2019.
($1 = 0.8835 euros)
(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Inti Landauro Editing by Peter Graff and John Stonestreet)
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Photo credit: A pedestrian on a sunny street in Madrid, Spain. The country reported stronger foreign tourism numbers in October, 2021. Alex Vasey / Unsplash