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French tourists outnumber Brits for first time, but will the trend continue?
12 October 2021 @ 19:11

HOLIDAYMAKERS' typical profile in Spain has changed since the start of the pandemic: French visitors have outnumbered British tourists in the past 18 months for the first time in history.

In fact, entries from France have doubled those from the UK: Between March 2020 and now, approximately 6.2 million French nationals have taken their holidays in Spain, compared with 3.1 million Brits.

A full beach in Lloret del Mar (Girona province). Close to the French border, it would have been among the most popular destinations for tourists from the neighbouring country this summer - nearly a third holidayed in Catalunya in 2021

Since the start of the Covid crisis, one in five of Spain's 25 million foreign visitors has been French, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE).

Although some pockets of the country, such as the Costa del Sol, reported international tourism figures this August as being nearly back to those of 2019 – the last 'non-Covid' year and one which broke all records – nationwide, about half as many foreign holidaymakers as August 2019 visited Spain in August 2021, or around 5.2 million.


British government's relaxed travel restrictions may reboot market

The trend may soon start to reverse, given that, for the first time since spring 2020, the UK government has removed restrictions on entry to the country for travellers from Spain, either residents there visiting Britain or British residents returning from a Spanish holiday, as long as they are vaccinated - no quarantine is now necessary for fully-immunised people not travelling from a 'red-list country' and, for England at least, only one test is required, which can be a cheaper lateral-flow (LFT), rather than the previously-stipulated three compulsory PCRs.

Even without having to quarantine, taking a PCR test 72 hours before arrival, two days after arrival, and a third on day eight – not including any PCRs required for entry to the other country, such as Spain - involves additional organisation headaches and inflates the cost of a trip to Europe by an average of between €350 and €690 per person, which is prohibitive for a family unit or those seeking a budget break.

Now these requirements have been replaced with one compulsory LFT, costing around €40 a head, on the second day after arrival in England, and with the only other stipulation being a passenger locator form completed for both directions – plus a 'Covid vaccine certificate', which is a permanent document that can be stored on a mobile phone or in paper format inside a passport – it means the UK's October half-term week may bring forth an influx of British tourists, and their numbers may rise next year over the spring and summer.

But while the restrictions were in place, the predominant nationality among international holidaymakers in Spain was French, and 20% of foreign visitor spending - €1.18 billion out of a total of €5.9bn – came out of French people's purses.


Why French people?

Some of the reason for this is geography – air travel rules and limitations during the pandemic did not have to apply to many visitors from France, since the majority, according to the INE, entered Spain by car; six in 10, in fact, compared with approximately four in 10 who travelled by plane and just 1.3% by train, the latter of whom probably did not stay much farther south than about Barcelona, given the limited options for long-distance rail travel along the coasts.



Like 1


TravelswithCharlie said:
16 October 2021 @ 12:33

No mention of the 90day Brexit factor.

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