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 Spanish news agency EFE, Valencia Hotel Association (Hosbec) president Toni Mayor said on Wednesday that hotels in the Mediterranean region received more bookings from British holidaymakers this week than “in the ‘history of tourism’. According to the mayor, the British made “large-scale” reservations for accommodation over the summer, explaining that people were “impatient for revenge” for the coronavirus, and that there was “no better way to do that than going on vacation. “
The spike in bookings comes after the UK government on Monday announced a roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions in England. According to the mayor, following the news, hotels in Valencia have received a “massive” number of bookings from May 17, when the restrictions on international leisure travel should be lifted. However, the British government will meet on March 12 to decide whether this roadmap should be advanced or retracted, depending on the epidemiological situation in the country. The UK is the biggest source 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 could open on May 1 instead of May 17,” said the mayor, who added that the British are starting to book hotels “for the whole summer” now that the end of the lockdown restrictions are in sight. The president of Hosbec said that reservations for August, September and October were going “very well”, but that reservations were also made earlier from mid-May. Nearly 19 million people in the UK 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 could be vaccinated.
“We are already concluding that half of the summer season has been saved,” said the mayor, who also supports a “universal” vaccination passport – certifying that the carrier has been immunized against Covid-19 – as a means of reviving tourism in worldwide.
As a result of the pandemic, British visitors to Spain fell 82% in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE). The total number of international tourists also fell last year, dropping 77% compared to 2019 data. This drop was particularly felt in the Balearic Islands (87% drop), Catalonia (80%), Madrid (77.7%), Andalusia (77.5%) and the region of Valencia (73.2%).
english version by Melissa Kitson.