The tourism sector in Spain’s Valencia region is starting to see the first signs of recovery after being devastated by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Spanish news agency EFE, the president of the Valencian Hotel Association (Hosbec), Toni Mayor, said on Wednesday that hotels in the Mediterranean region had received more bookings this week from British holidaymakers than “in the history of tourism.” According to Mayor, Britons have made reservations “on a massive scale” to secure accommodation over summer, explaining that people were “eager to get their revenge” on the coronavirus, and that there was “no better way to do this than going on vacation.”
The spike in bookings comes after the UK government announced on Monday a roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions in England. According to Mayor, following the news, hotels in Valencia received a “massive” number of bookings from May 17, when restrictions on international leisure travel are set to be lifted. The British government, however, will meet on March 12 to decide whether this roadmap should be pushed forward or back, depending on the epidemiological situation in the country. The United Kingdom is the largest source country of foreign visitors to Benidorm, which is one of Valencia’s most popular tourist destinations. It is also the largest market for the entire Spanish tourism sector, which received 18 million UK visitors in 2019.
“We might open on May 1 instead of May 17,” said Mayor, who added that Britons are beginning to book hotels “for all of summer” now that the end of lockdown restrictions is in sight. The Hosbec president said that reservations for August, September and October were going “very well,” but that bookings were also being made earlier from mid-May. Nearly 19 million people in the UK have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, out of a population of 66.6 million, and by the end of October, 90% of the population may be vaccinated.
“We are already concluding that half the summer season has been saved,” said Mayor, who also supports a “universal” vaccine passport – certifying that the bearer has been immunized against Covid-19 – as a way to revive tourism across the world.
As a result of the pandemic, British visitors to Spain plummeted 82% in 2020 from the previous year, according to figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE). The total number of international tourists also fell last year, dropping 77% compared to data from 2019. This drop was felt especially hard in the Balearic Islands (a fall of 87%), Catalonia (80%), Madrid (77.7%), Andalusia (77.5%) and the Valencia region (73.2%).
English version by Melissa Kitson.