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Foreign tourism to Spain slumps 93.6% in February amid COVID curbs

FILE PHOTO: A person teaches surfing to children at Barceloneta beach, in Barcelona

MADRID (Reuters) – Tourist arrivals to Spain plummeted 93.6% year-on-year in February as visitors stayed away from bars and beaches in what is usually the world’s second most visited country.

International tourism to Spain plunged 80% to 19 million visitors last year – the lowest since 1969 – as coronavirus curbs took their toll.

That trend continued in the first two months of 2021, data from the National Statistics Institute showed on Tuesday, in further bad news for a country that used to get over a tenth of its gross domestic product from tourism.

Spain received 284,311 foreign tourists in February, 34.6% less than in January. International tourism revenues dropped 93.3% year on year in February, putting many business in jeopardy.

While most tourists came from France, one in four travellers in February, the number of French fell 87.4% from February 2020, the last month before the pandemic hit.

Many French people, weary of their own lockdown, have been flocking over the border to enjoy open bars and restaurants in areas such as Madrid.

Germans, who have started going back to Mallorca, took second spot.

Estimates from the Funcas think tank show the tourism sector’s contribution to Spain’s economy slumped to between 4% and 5% last year from around 12% in 2019, jeopardising many businesses.

(Reporting by Aida Pelaez-Fernandez and Emma Pinedo; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Nick Macfie)

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