The great crater of tourism: 72,000 million euros less in the worst year in history

December data confirm the collapse in the tourism sector. The accumulated expense goes from 91,912 million euros in 2019 to 19,740 million

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The tourism data for December 2020 published by the INE confirm what was already known: 2020 was a catastrophic year for the sector in Spain. The arrival of 648,669 international tourists throughout the last month of the year represented a drop of 84.9% compared to the same month of the previous year. In total, the annual decline was 77,3% after losing 64.5 million tourists.

The economic consequences of this collapse are also notable: from 91,912 million euros of accumulated spending in 2019, it goes to 19,740 million, a drop of 78.5%. In December, total spending was 696 million, 86.1% less than in the same month of the previous year.


Average spending per tourist fell to 1,073 euros in December and stood at 1,041 euros for the year as a whole, a decrease of 5.4%. To this we must add that the average duration of the trips rose slightly (an increase of 0.7 days for a total of 7.8), which also represents a fall (of 13.8%, specifically) in average daily expenditure, which stood at 133 euros.

In total numbers of travelers, the health crisis meant going from the 83.5 million visitors in 2019 to 18.9 million in 2020. Only the months of January and February, when the pandemic had not yet received this rating, remained at similar figures to the previous period (February, in fact, experienced a slight improvement after going from 4.38 million to 4.42 ).

In March, when we went from the 5.65 million reference to 2.02, a downward trend was established that could be felt throughout the year. The months of confinement, April and May, with the total absence of tourists, caused the loss of 7.41 and 7.91 million, respectively.


The best month of this 2020 was July, with 2.46 million, closely followed by the 2.44 in August, which experienced a major drop. In comparison, in the same period of 2019, 9.87 and 10.11 million tourists entered Spain. September (from 8.84 million to 1.14), October (from 7.58 to 1.01) and November (from 4.65 million to 457,000) could do nothing to save the year.

The autonomous communities that received the highest total expenditure throughout the year were Canary Islands (4,816 million, a drop of 71.4%), Cataluña (3,640 million, 82.9% less than in 2019) and Andalucía (2,877 million representing a decrease of 76.8%).

Regarding the countries of origin, those who most visited Spain were the French, with 3.87 million tourists (65.2% less than in 2019), followed by citizens of the United Kingdom (3 , 17 million and a drop – much greater – of 82.4%) and, already further away, Germans (2.41 million who put the collapse at 78.4%). By origin, the worst difference between those collected by the INE is that of American tourists, who fell 87.7% for a total of 407,437.

The Executive Vice President of Exceltur, Josà © Luis Zoreda, regretted these data that prove that “we are still in free fall”, according to Europa Press. In the opinion of the employers, there is less and less time “to avoid a series of bankruptcies and very dramatic job losses that we must avoid by all means”.

Thus, until we manage to return to normality, they believe that it is “urgent” for the Government to “launch a non-refundable rescue plan” in which they consider that 5,300 million euros should be invested, to which measures should be added as new structural EREs that are extended until the end of this year.

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