According to the most recent data, the vaccination campaign is paying off, and Spain is currently the safest country in Europe to visit.
(Valencia, 26.10) The Spanish National Institute of Statistics (INE) yesterday released tourism figures for September, highlighting a significant increase in visits to almost every region in Spain.
Overnight stays in the Valencian Community totaled 2,231 million, a 163 percent increase over September of last year. Last month, 721,777 visitors arrived, with 227,106 of them being foreigners.
This is in line with the recently published figures by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that have underlined the fact that Spain is currently the safest country in Europe to visit.
The Corona Pandemic has nearly wiped out one of the most important sectors of the Spanish economy: tourism. The tourist season for 2020 was mainly skipped, and the 2021 season began late this year, in July. Despite the late start, the numbers were impressive, and in some places, hotel occupancy rate was equal to the last “normal” year, 2019.
What was more important for tourism, and which no one could have predicted at the time, was the Spanish government’s and the public’s determination to be vaccinated.
The vaccination campaign in Spain began slowly, with many distribution issues, and the country was substantially behind almost everyone else in the EU. However, once the campaign got underway, it continued day after day, until Spain surpassed most of the other countries in the EU block, becoming not only one of the countries with the highest percentage of vaccinated people in Europe, but also the safest country in Europe to visit.
According to last week’s data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Spain is currently third in the bloc with nearly 80 percent of its population vaccinated (Portugal is first with 85 percent, followed by Iceland with 81 percent).
What is as important is the fact that Spain’s incidence rate is currently the second best in the EU (50 per 100,000). Only Malta has a lower rate (40), while Portugal is at 85, and Iceland is at 180. With the infection rates almost four times lower than the EU average (190) Spain is currently the safest country in Europe, and that is the main reason why the tourists will continue coming.
Only four other countries in Europe have a vaccination rate higher than 70%: Denmark (75,7 percent), Ireland (74,9 percent), Belgium (73 percent), and Italy (70,5 percent ). The rest of Europe is in the mid-sixties, with countries like Poland, Czechia, and Switzerland nearing 50%.
It is difficult to draw any conclusions about the relationship between the percentage of the population that is vaccinated and infection rates. When it comes to Eastern European countries, there is an extremely low percentage of vaccinated people (only 20% in Bulgaria) and a high incidence rate. As a result, it appears that the less the population is vaccinated, the sicker it becomes.
However, the examples of the United Kingdom (67% vaccinated, 810 incidence rate), Ireland (74,9% vaccinated, 433 incidence rate), and Belgium (73% vaccinated, 326 incidence rate) point in the opposite direction.
While the situation changes on a daily basis, Spain has been considered “stable” in ECDC reports for a while, long enough to have a decent summer tourist season.
With fewer travel options and many competing markets unable to attract visitors due to high incidence rates (Croatia, Egypt, Turkey, Tunis, Morocco), Spain may benefit from the health crisis in the months ahead, resulting in a bumper summer season next year.
And, given that vaccination outside the EU and the US is moving at a snail’s pace, with the main culprit being vaccine availability, this could be a situation that lasts a few more years.
It is difficult to predict whether the new reality will ever return Spain to its pre-Covid numbers, but it appears that simply being the safest country in Europe to visit should bring enough business to keep the tourism industry afloat.
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