MADRID — Spain’s huge tourism sector will nearly reach its pre-pandemic size in 2022, an industry association has said, although the ramp-up of the Omicron variant and supply issues will prevent a full recovery this year.
Spain was the second most visited country in the world before the pandemic. Vacationers flocked to its beaches and historic buildings while trendy cities like Barcelona and Madrid were popular for short stays.
Industry association Exceltur expects Spain’s tourism gross domestic product to rise to 135 billion euros ($ 155 billion) in 2022, 88% of pre-pandemic levels, against 57% in 2021, when a partial recovery in domestic tourism did not offset a contraction in international travelers.
Activity would not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, the group said.
With record-breaking infections almost daily as the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe, Exceltur has warned that a recovery in tourism is unlikely to begin in earnest until April.
“Most businessmen are again postponing full revenue recovery to pre-pandemic levels to 2023, due to the triple impact of the Omicron, the energy and supply crisis at the end 2021, “said Exceltur.
Beaches and countryside are expected to experience a strong recovery while urban destinations, more dependent on international demand and business travel, expect a less intense recovery, he said.
If the forecasts are correct, tourism will contribute 10.5% of Spain’s overall GDP, up from 5.5% in 2020 and the 7.4% that Exceltur expects for 2021.
Spain’s Covid-19 infection rate, measured over the past 14 days, hit a new record high of 3,128 cases per 100,000 people on Wednesday, a more than tenfold increase since early December.