The Easter holidays are usually a time Britons in their droves pack up and head off on a vacation to the sunshine. Spain is one of Britain’s top destinations, attracting 18.08 million Britons in 2019 alone according to Statitsa, and reported positive inflation thanks to a surge in tourism during last year’s last Easter holiday.
However, the outlook this year is far bleaker, with some of the country’s top holiday destinations and accompanying beachside retreats laying dormant.
Images have surfaced of some of the country’s most popular tourist beaches looking very lonely.
Lockdown measures are in place across the world, with stringent rules enforced in Spain on March 14 and similar measures later introduced in the UK on March 23.
Amongst many areas, Spain’s tourism, which is its third-biggest industry, has been severely impacted by the global pandemic.
According to a Statista survey carried out between February 27 and March 2, 15 percent of the population between 18 and 24 years old declared that they would cancel their vacation plans due to the virus, two points more than among those surveyed of 55 years or older.
What’s more, the Spanish hoteliers’ confederation reported that reservations were already faltering in February. Bookings were down between 20 and 30 percent in Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic and Canary Islands compared with 2019.
Meanwhile, hotel bookings were also down 24 percent in Madrid and 20 percent in Barcelona.
“The impact is really significant, especially on conferences and visitors travelling long distances,” said Ramón Estalella, a spokesperson for the confederation.
“If it’s only for a month, the impact won’t be so great, once confidence is restored. But it is impossible to predict.
“Every day there are new announcements from different countries and regions and government measures that change the outlook.”
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Cancellations of a number of big events, including Málaga film festival, football league games and a number of musical performances also lead to a decrease in foot traffic to the nation ahead of lockdown measures.
Since then the Spanish government has closed its borders to outside nations in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, UK tourists are being urged to stay at home amid lockdown measures.
The FCO currently has in place a travel warning urging Britons to avoid all non-essential travel – this has been extended “indefinitely”.
Feeling the knock-on effects of pandemic fear, border closures and preventive lockdown measures, airlines and holiday operators have begun to cancel planned trips.
Airlines including Jet2 have grounded all commercial flights, meanwhile, other big names such as British Airways, easyJet and Virgin continue to fly but only as part of a vital repatriation effort in partnership with the government.
TUI holidays, which specialises in many Spanish destinations, announced this week it would be suspending all holidays for the next five weeks.
So when will Britons be allowed to travel to Spain once again?
As it stands Spain remains deep in the midst of COVID-19, currently reporting over 161,000 confirmed cases and 16,353 deaths as a result.
At the time of writing, it is the second most impacted country in the world based on reported figures.
The President of Benidorm’s British Businesses Association, Karen Maling Cowles, said that she is uncertain about British tourism picking up for a few months.
She told The Sun Online Travel: “We mustn’t build people’s hopes up – until the virus is contained, it’s not in our interests.
“I don’t personally think that we’re going to start recovering from this until June or July and even that’s maybe early.
“But British tourism I don’t see happening until September.”