Spain sees lowest number of tourist visitors since 1960s

Foreign visitors to Spain plunged 77.3 percent in 2020 from a year earlier, official data showed Wednesday, as the pandemic and travel restrictions decimated tourism.

Spain sees lowest number of tourist visitors since 1960s
Sun loungers sit on the sand at the closed Levante Beach in Benidorm on June 1, 2020. Photo: AFP

Spain received 19 million international tourists last year, national statistics office INE said, down from 83.5 million in 2019 when it was the world's second-most visited country after France.

The last time Spain had so few foreign tourists was in the late 1960s.    

France overtook Britain as Spain's most important source of tourists last year, accounting for 3.9 million arrivals, a 65 percent decline over 2019.   

The number of British visitors was down 82.4 percent to 3.2 million, making Britain Spain's second biggest source of visitors in 2020 followed by Germany.    

Britain in July imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine on travellers from Spain, prompting many Brits to cancel their reservations at Spanish resorts during the peak summer season.

Britain has been Spain's most important source of tourists in the decades since the country began to open up to northern European holidaymakers and a sun and sea destination in the 1960s under former dictator Francisco Franco.

The plunge in arrivals has hammered Spain's tourism-dependent economy, which contracted sharply by 11 percent in 2020 in one of the worst results of the eurozone

Around 14 percent of Spanish hotel jobs, or 190,000 posts, were cut in 2020, according to Spanish union CCOO.


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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.