Tourism industry set for robust recovery in 2022

14 Jan 2022

A stronger recovery in the tourism sector is forecast for 2022, following subdued activity in Spain last year, say industry experts.

Tourism generated €88.5 billion in Spain last year, a rise of €36 billion on 2020’s total figure, yet still 43% less than 2019, according to tourism association Exceltur.

Despite an improvement in tourism following the devastating levels in 2020 during the coronavirus crisis, the recovery was “partial” and “full of ups and downs”, said Exceltur vice-president Jose Luis Zoreda.

The ongoing restrictions at the beginning of last year meant tourism activity in Spain stayed “paralysed” until May, then after a summer rally, waned at the end of November due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant.

The worst affected was international tourism says Exceltur, with just 31 million visitors, falling far short of the government’s 45 million target – around 50% of 2019 figures.

Spain was the second most popular holiday destination after France before the pandemic, but the country has endured a sharp drop in tourists from the UK, previously the largest group of visitors.

“Those who suffered the most were travel agencies, airlines and urban hotels” in places like Barcelona and Madrid, Zoreda added.

Yet Exceltur believes there will be an improvement in 2022 after the Omicron variant has passed.

Head of research at Exceltur, Oscar Perelli said the industry would probably see “a very complex first quarter” with sales a third under 2019 levels, but forecasts “a marked upturn from April onwards.”

The tourism sector is forecast to generate €135 billion in 2022, making up 10.5% of GDP, compared to 5.5% in 2020 and 7.4% in 2021.

In addition, official statistics show that before the Covid crisis, tourism represented 12.4% of Spain’s economy.