UPDATE 1-Hotel bookings in Spain in September fall 78% on year

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MADRID, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The number of nights booked by tourists in Spanish hotels plunged 78% in September compared with the same month a year ago as travel restrictions ravaged the crucial tourism industry, data from the INE national statistics office showed on Friday.

The September data was worse than the 64% fall recorded in August.

Despite a slight uptick in activity after Spain emerged from a strict coronavirus lockdown in June, overall hotel bookings in the first nine months of the year have slumped 71% since the same period a year earlier, INE said.

The data showed the northern regions of Cantabria and Asturias had the highest levels of hotel occupation in September, at 37% and 35% respectively.

Tourism, which accounts for about 12% of Spain’s economic output has been decimated since the pandemic brought global travel to a grinding halt.

Still, there was a glimmer of hope on Thursday as England and Germany lifted warnings against travel to the Canary Islands, potentially salvaging some of the winter season on the archipelago. (Reporting by Nathan Allen and Inti Landauro; Editing by Ingrid Melander)