A giant step towards recovery
The situation of the tourism sector improved considerably during the summer months, outperforming the projections of many of the companies in the industry.
The situation of the tourism sector improved considerably during the summer months, outperforming the projections of many of the companies in the industry. The vaccination of a large part of the population, the implementation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate, the great pent-up demand for tourism services and the easing of restrictions in the hospitality industry have been the compendium of factors that have supported a significant and necessary recovery for the sector. However, among the factors mentioned above, the one we believe has been most crucial is vaccination, as this has minimised the number of severe cases of COVID-19, helping to relieve the pressure on the healthcare system. This not only opened the door to a recovery during the summer season but has also laid the foundations for travel to get back to normal in the medium term, as predicted.
Domestic tourism, which before the pandemic had accounted for around 30% of tourist expenditure in Spain, achieved a larger share this summer than in the same period of 2019 as many Spanish tourists who used to go abroad for their holidays chose destinations closer to home. On the other hand, international demand was still more sluggish than usual, albeit posting considerable improvement: overnight stays by foreigners went from a 90% drop in May compared with the same month in 2019 to a 48% reduction in August. According to CaixaBank’s internal data, the source countries that have provided the most support for this improvement are those that have adopted the Digital COVID Certificate, mainly the countries in the Schengen Area. Other important countries, such as the UK and American markets, were still far from their pre-COVID levels although they showed a promising trend over the summer, leading us to believe they will be responsible for most of the sector’s improvement in 2022, once tourist arrivals from the EU consolidate.
Given this situation, we expect 2021 to close with tourism-related GDP at 54% of its 2019 level, up by 55% annually. Looking ahead to 2022, our viewpoint remains optimistic. We expect the good domestic and EU tourism figures to consolidate while the British and American source markets should gradually improve, bringing tourism-related GDP up to 88% of its 2019 level, an annual growth of 63%. These figures would mean that the 2022 financial year would be profitable for the vast majority of the industry, after a very tough year and a half. We can therefore reaffirm that the tourism industry’s long-term sustainability is beyond doubt and it will once again play a leading role in driving the growth of Spain’s economy.