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Spain is preparing for life without Russian tourists

About 134,000 Russian tourists visited Spain in 2021, according to statistics on border tourist movements (Frontur) prepared by the National Statistical Institute (INE), despite travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These tourists spent a total of 228 million euros in Spain last year (13.09% more than in 2020), which means that every Russian tourist entering Spain leaves an average of about 1,703 euros (31 .66% more than a year earlier).

The daily spending of Russian tourists in Spain is about 119 euros, which is one of the highest rates among foreign tourists visiting the country. Tourists from Russia spend an average of 14.35 days in Spain.

Conflict in Ukraine destroys forecasts for 2022

The prospects for the tourism industry in Spain this year were very positive, and it was hoped that the improvement in the global health situation would contribute to a new upsurge of Russian tourism to the country. In September last year, the Russian government approved new air routes with Spain, and a total of 123,184 direct flights between Russia and seven Spanish airports were scheduled through August.

The majority of seats were allocated to Barcelona (45,314), Alicante (27,064), Madrid (21,548) and Malaga (19,424) airports. The airports of Valencia (4098), Tenerife South (4056) and Palma de Mallorca (1680) also expected to receive Russian tourists.

But on February 24, everything turned upside down. The invasion of Ukraine has caused all these positive prospects to collapse, and Russian citizens are rethinking tourist outings in the face of the international geopolitical situation.

On February 27, the European Union closed its airspace to all Russian airlines as part of a new package of sanctions against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. In response, Russia closed its airspace to 36 countries, including Spain.

Russian tourists: stay longer and spend more

Over the past decade, there have been significant ups and downs in the number of Russian tourist arrivals in Spain. According to Frontur, the peak moment came in 2013, when 1.58 million Russian travelers visited the country.

The fall in the number of tourists came in the next two years, coinciding with the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the Donbas, which preceded the current conflict in Ukraine. Subsequently, tourism recovered again and from 2016 to 2019 the trend was upward, but was again abruptly interrupted due to the pandemic.

Most Russian tourists stay in hotels (80%), and their favorite activities while visiting Spain are shopping (57%), city tours (54%) and cultural events (49%).

The current airspace closure, combined with other economic sanctions by Western governments against Russia, such as credit card bans, suggests that Russian tourism will drop sharply across Europe this year and have serious repercussions for Spain’s tourism industry.

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