Tourism is recovering strongly in Spain and Portugal, summer data shows

Tourism has rebounded sharply this summer in the Iberian Peninsula – one of the most popular overseas destinations for Irish holidaymakers.

The number of foreign tourists visiting Portugal slightly exceeded pre-pandemic levels in July for the first time since the end of most Covid-19 restrictions, data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) show.

More than 1.8 million foreigners stayed in Portuguese hotels during the month, up from around 600,000 a year ago when the country still had some restrictions and just over 1.78 million in July 2019, a record year for tourism.

Meanwhile, more than twice as many tourists visited Spain in July as in the same month last year – a figure only slightly below pre-pandemic levels, data from the National Statistics Institute shows.

The 9.1 million visitors in July spent almost 12 billion euros, more than twice as much as in 2021.

Tourism revenues are a vital part of Spain’s gross domestic product – before Covid 2020 halted international travel, it welcomed a record number of foreign tourists in 2019, with 9.9 million visitors in July this year.

Portugal’s tourism sector accounted for almost 15 percent of gross domestic product before the pandemic. Despite the strong July, the cumulative number of foreign visitors in the first seven months of this year remains at 8.1 million, around a million fewer than in the same period of 2019.

Visitors from Spain accounted for the largest share of Portugal’s total arrivals in July, at 285,900, followed by Britain and the United States, which have recently been growing as a source of tourism.

Travel to the region is recovering in no small part thanks to Portugal’s location on the southwestern tip of Europe, far from war-ravaged Ukraine, and people’s general perception that it’s a safe place.

Despite the ongoing challenges of staff shortages and rampant inflation, the Spanish government expects tourist arrivals to reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic volumes during this year’s summer season.

Meanwhile, French Tourism Minister Olivia Gregoire said at a news conference this week that preliminary data showed the summer of 2022 had been “extraordinary”.

In 2019, France was the most visited country in the world, attracting almost 90 million foreign tourists.

Asked if France is still targeting 100 million foreign tourists a year, Gregoire said: “It may not be impossible to reach that number, (but) it’s a target we can have.”

– Additional reporting by Pól Ó Conghaile Tourism is recovering strongly in Spain and Portugal, summer data shows

Fry Electronics Team

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