THE number of tourists visiting Spain rebounded by 130% to 71.6 million in 2022, compared to the previous Covid-hit year.
According to the Spanish statistics office (INE) the strong recovery was still not enough to match pre-Covid 2019, remaining 14% down.
This was despite a strong recovery in the first half of the year, with foreign visitors at 92% of their pre-Covid level by July.
But the recovery dipped in the second half of the year, possibly due to high inflation and energy prices hitting spending power.
On the other hand, domestic tourism has recovered much faster, throwing a lifeline to the industry.
Tourism industry body Exceltur’s Tourism Outlook report said the sector’s GDP reached €159 billion in 2022 – up 1.4% on the previous year and 4.7% on 2018.
The report added that 61% of economic growth in Spain last year was down to tourism.
Exceltur said the first quarter of 2022 was marked by higher energy prices and problems with supplies due to the war in Ukraine, as well as the Omicron Covid variant, but that from April there was a travel recovery, especially in the leisure, meetings and congresses sectors.
The body believes that accumulated demand and the desire to travel have overcome the adverse effects on personal income caused by inflation.
Exceltur expects consolidation of an upward trend throughout 2023, and a return to normality in international mobility, especially that of Asian travellers to Spain, plus the loyal Latin American market, with special focus on Mexican trade, which rose by 80% last year.
The report pointed out that a big increase in domestic tourism activity boosted the sector as the foreign visitor market continued to recover.
As for profitability, Exceltur said: “Business results will continue to be impacted by the still high energy, supply, and financial prices and increases in salary costs.”