Authorities in Spain expect tourism to increase during spring after suffering a decline due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
In addition, according to a senior government official, they expect the number of international visitors this year to be more than two-thirds of record 2019 levels, a report published by Reuters shows, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“The 2022 expectations are good. What we have is a great desire to travel,” Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdes pointed out during Madrid’s FITUR tourism congress.
The Coronavirus situation caused significant difficulties for the travel and tourism sector during last year when a large number of people lost their jobs.
Based on the data provided by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), nearly 202,000 people engaged in Spain’s travel and tourism sector were left jobless in 2021, mainly as a result of the COVID-19 situation. Such figures marked a 19.5 per cent decrease in employment in this sector.
In addition, the report also revealed that while the travel demand started to increase during the peak summer season of 2021, with travel restrictions being abolished or eased, the demand for jobs also started to recover, anticipated to reach more than one million in the second half of last year. One in 11 jobs in the travel and tourism sector was left jobless.
The report also revealed that nearly 16,000 workers are expected to be left unoccupied in 2022.
According to the data provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), over 8,834,360 cases of COVID-19 infection have been recorded in Spain since the beginning of the pandemic, while 91,599 people have died.
Besides, due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, authorities in Spain have tightened their entry rules in order to stop another surge in infection cases.
Still, even amid the pandemic, Spain continues to welcome a large number of international visitors. In November, a total of 30.2 million visitors entered Spain, marking an increase of 52.7 per cent compared to the figures of the same period in 2020, based on data provided by Truespana.
Spain was the world’s second most visited country in 2019, during which year 80 million international visitors entered the country.
Tourism reached only a third of that number during last year as travel bans and other restrictions imposed to halt the spread of the virus prevented a notable recovery in this sector.
The spread of the Omicron variant and the restrictions imposed by Spain’s government to halt the spread of the virus continue to prevent the increase in the number of tourists.
Recently, Spanish authorities revealed they extended entry restrictions for all European Union and Schengen Zone countries, except for Switzerland, after they continue to be part of the COVID-19 risk list.