The Spanish tourism industry continues to record losses. In the first quarter of 2021, only 1.6 million foreign tourists arrived in the country by air, which is 87.5% less than in 2020 and 90.4% less than in 2019, when during the same period there were exceeded 17 million international tourists.
In January, 565,666 travelers arrived in January, 4,340,244 in February, and another 658,943 in March, making this low compared to previous years, when all arrival records were broken year after year.
The decline affected both budget and traditional airlines. In this quarter of the year, 495,175 passengers traveled with the help of budget airlines, which is 93% less than in 2020 and 94.7% less than in 2019. For traditional airlines, the decline has been smaller, although the impact is still significant. From January to March, these airlines carried a total of 1.1 million passengers (81.1% less than in 2020 and 85.2% less than in 2019).
In March last year, almost 660,000 passengers arrived through international airports, which is 71.8% and 90% less than in the same month in 2020 and 2019. Of these, 70.2% chose traditional airlines for travel, recording a decline of 58.4% (-84.6% compared to 2019); while the remaining 29.8% who traveled with low-cost carriers (LCC) decreased by 84% (-94.5% compared to 2019).
Data on international tourism, published last week by Turespania, show that between January and March, the country received 1.65 million international passengers, which is 87.5% and 90.4% less than in 2020 and 2019.
Budget international revenues recorded a decrease of 93% (-94.7% compared to 2019), while traditional companies fell by 81.1% (-85.2% compared to 2019). 62.4% of the total number of arrivals came from the EU and the UK, recording a decrease of 93.6% (-98.6% compared to 2019). Arrivals from the rest of the world (only 37.6%) fell by 86.1% (-97% compared to 2019).
Turkish data for March show that all of Spain’s tourism markets have shrunk, with Turkey being the least affected (down 31.5% from 2020 and 75% from 2019), while the UK has been the hardest hit. 96.5% compared to 2020 and 98.7% compared to 2019).
In March, only 2.9% of travelers were from the UK. The British market accounted for only 3.3% of the total number of low-cost arrivals, with a sharp decline of 98.5% (down 99.4% compared to 2019). As for traditional airlines, only 2.7% of the total number of passengers traveling by these companies were British, recording a 89.1% drop compared to 2020 and 96.7% compared to 2019.
German passengers (24.5% of the total) decreased by 53% (-84.4% compared to 2019), decreasing in all Spanish autonomous communities, especially in the Canary Islands, which are traditionally a German tourist market in winter. Other major markets, France, Italy and Switzerland, also decreased by 56.8% (-83% compared to 2019), 44.1% (-92.2% compared to 2019) and 56.1% (-85.6% compared to 2019), respectively.
Madrid recorded the most arrivals
The decline was significant for the six autonomous communities with the highest levels of arrivals, reaching a total of 71.3% (-89.8% compared to 2019).
According to the study, Madrid was the community with the largest number of arrivals (40.9%), while the Canary Islands, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Valencia together accounted for 58.2% of the total number of passengers arriving in Spain. Madrid also had the highest profits in traditional companies (54.2%), while the Canary Islands, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and the Valencian Community accounted for 44.8% of the total number of passengers traveling by these carriers.
In terms of budget passengers, Catalonia recorded the largest number (23.8%), while 75.3% of the total number of budget arrivals were in the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, the Valencian Community and the Community of Madrid, according to Turespania.
Prospects for the rest of the year
“Spain can’t spend another summer like 2020. It can’t afford it,” said Jose Luis Zoreda, executive vice president of the Spanish tourism association EXCELTUR, a group that brings together tourism corporations such as Iberia. Melia, Rio, Globalia, NH and Renfe. Last week, Zoreda warned of extremely low stocks, especially international ones, which will barely reach 10% of the total in the summer of 2019 and are partially offset by the thrust of international tourism.
The negative forecast was confirmed after the latest report of the Secretary of State for Tourism, which shows that the number of seats reserved for the second quarter is 14.1 million, which is 53.8% less than 30.5 million passengers for the same period of 2019 before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Profits for the rest of the year are expected to be offset by Europe’s domestic or neighboring markets. The outlook for the two main markets of origin (UK and Germany, which account for 40.9% of passengers) is particularly poor: in the UK, the decline was 53.8%, and in Germany – 60%.
The US decision to include Spain in the Do Not Travel list, along with 129 countries, also reinforces this pessimistic outlook, given that the risk has increased almost worldwide.