Tourism Sector in Spain Could Lose More Than 40 Billion Euros This Summer

Spain’s tourism sector risks losing more than 40 billion euros during this summer, due to the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

The Mediterranean country which last year welcomed 83.7 million international tourists, continues its fight to seek innovative ways to attract tourists during this summer, but the impact of the virus reflects on the streets and half-empty beaches, as well, [1]reports.

On Tuesday this week, the Health Ministry reported the most significant daily spike in new Coronavirus cases, in months. According to the Ministry’s report, cases of  Coronavirus infection reached 2,615 on Thursday, double the numbers compared to Wednesday.

Last week, 10,220 persons in Spain tested positive for the COVID-19, while the town of Totana, Murcia has been shut after 55 persons were infected at a pub.

Totana banned the entry for all persons, while a total of 32,000 residents were ordered not to leave out the town until the authorities test all 300 persons that were at a bar during the outbreak.

2019’s data show that nearly 47 per cent of international tourism revenue for the whole year was recorded between June and September  (92 billion euros spent in 2019).

According to the Frontur and Egattur summaries by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in the period between June and September 2019, 37.7 million international tourists visited Spain and they spent 43.147 million euros (43 billion euros).

However,  the lockdown period had had a significant impact on the tourism sector. It is estimated that the industry lost at least 30 billion euros during the COVID lockdown period.

During March, there were 10.6 million arrivals when lockdown began, while due to the imposed restrictions and border closure there were no tourists at all until June 21,  which led to a loss of 20 million tourists.

Due to the current Coronavirus situation in Spain, the tourism sector could lose more than 40 billion euros.

According to the president of Exceltur, and CEO of Meliá Hotels International, Gabriel Escarrer, the hotel sector estimates that hotel occupancy will only be around 30 per cent during this year. He stressed that this type of accommodation is the option chosen by the majority (approximately 65 per cent) of foreigners who generally come to Spain on vacation.

International tourism expenditure totals for this year are expected to be lower, compared to last year. In 2019, 12 billion were spent in both July and August, and 9.7 billion in September.

According to the National Institute of Statistic- INE, between July and September last year, were registered 61.16 million trips made by Spanish residents. They spent just under 12 billion euros in Spain and 6 billion travelling abroad.

The Exceltur association thinks that annual losses will surpass 83 billion euros. This makes 60 per cent of the 140 billion spent in 2019 by domestic and international tourists.

Catalonia, the Canary Islands and Andalusia will be the most affected places by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Catalonia lost nearly 4.5 million tourists and 3.6 billion euros, compared to January until May period, in 2019. The Canary Islands lost almost three million tourists and 3.6 billion, while Andalusia lost 2.9 million tourists and 2.1 billion euros.

The Balearic Islands had 3.47 million tourists between January and May 2019, while during the same period this year, 400,000 tourists were registered.

Around 45 per cent of its GDP depends on tourism, in this region, while in the Canary Islands, tourism GDP is approximately 35 per cent.

Spain’s Fight to Save Tourism Sector

Earlier this month, Spain’s government launched two new plans/campaigns named the Operation Summer and the Safe Tourism Plan, as an effort to revive the tourism sector[2].

The Spanish government announced the launching of these two campaigns[3] through a press release, noting that the move was taken in a bid to position Spain as a safe and reference destination for national and international tourism.

“The Secretary of State for Security of the Ministry of the Interior has activated Operation Summer 2020 in the nine Autonomous Communities with the greatest tourist influx in its district and has deployed the Safe Tourism Plan throughout the national territory to guarantee the protection of the campaign summer that now begins and consolidate Spain as one of the safest tourist destinations on the planet,” government’s press release announces.

These plans were presented by the Secretary of State for the Interior, Rafael Pérez Ruiz, and the Secretary of State for Tourism, Isabel Maria Oliver Sagreras, in Malaga.

According to the European Commission forecast, the Spanish economy will contract by nearly 11 per cent this year due to the pandemic.

Last month, authorities in Spain decided to allocate more than 4.2 billion euros [4]in an effort to revive the tourism sector, which has been devastated by the  Coronavirus.

A total of 12 per cent of GDP is depended on the tourism sector.

Europe Continues to Seek New Ways to Revive Tourism

Earlier in June, Members of the European Parliament insisted [5]that more concrete actions should be taken and more safely resume travel.

The European People’s Party urged the EU Commissioners to undertake the necessary measures to reboot tourism[6], which they asserted is one of the most affected industries by the Coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter sent to the European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Justice and Consumer protection Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, and the Commissioner for Health Stella Kyriakides, the EPP called on making tourism a priority in the recovery strategy from the Coronavirus.

Through the letter, the group highlighted that the tourism industry and travel is an essential player in the EU’s economy. The group reminded that in 2019 alone, the sector contributed 9.5 per cent to EU GDP and accounted for 11.2 per cent of the total labour force – about 22.6 million jobs.

The president of the French Union of Hotel Trades and Industries (UMIH), Laurent Duc estimated that the tourism industry would be in a turmoil for the next 18 months [7]at least, due to the Coronavirus developments,

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Europe is on track to lose 18.4 million tourism-related jobs and $1 trillion in GDP in 2020.

Spain May Be Added to the “Red” List

On June 21, Spain reopened country’s borders for all European Union and Schengen countries (except for Portugal with which the boundaries have been opened on July) despite EU’s recommendation to lift internal border restrictions by June 15.

But, due to the recently increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Spain, some countries are considering putting Spain on the “red” list.

Authorities in Norway raised the possibility to put Spain on the “red”[8] list, as Coronavirus cases are surging across the Mediterranean country.

According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstittutet, FHI), if the number of infections in Spain does not show a decrease during the following days, travellers from Spain will be subject to ten days of mandatory quarantine.

“This means that travellers from Spain to Norway may be required to go into quarantine for ten days on their return (to Norway) should the guidelines be changed,” doctor Are Stuwitz Berg, FHI consultant pointed out in a statement.

However, this week, Scotland lifted the compulsory 14 days quarantine[9] for travellers coming from Spain, despite the number of new Coronavirus infections.


  1. ^ (
  2. ^ to revive the tourism sector (
  3. ^ the launching of these two campaigns (
  4. ^ more than 4.2 billion euros (
  5. ^ insisted (
  6. ^ to reboot tourism (
  7. ^ tourism industry would be in a turmoil for the next 18 months (
  8. ^ “red” (
  9. ^ Scotland lifted the compulsory 14 days quarantine (

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