Spain sees summer tourism at 90% of pre-COVID levels despite inflation

Passengers queue at check-in desks at Malaga-Costa del Sol Airport, in Malaga, Spain June 4, 2022. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

MADRID, June 30 (Reuters) - Spain expects tourist arrivals to reach 90% of pre-pandemic volumes during the summer season, as northern Europeans shrug off concerns over inflation pressures and book even more trips than in 2019, a senior tourism official said on Thursday.

"Inflation is so far not dampening peak summer season demand," said the Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdes.

He was confident the tourism industry in one of the world's most visited countries will have a high season comparable to some strong years before the COVID-19 pandemic. "It is a solid recovery in difficult conditions," he said.

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Spanish 12-month inflation rose to 10.2% in June, topping 10% for the first time since April 1985, according to preliminary data from the National Statistics Institute.

At the same time, bookings for July and August have already reached 90% of 2019 levels, according to data from market-intelligence firm ForwardKeys.

Confirmed reservations from Sweden were nearly 79% higher than in the summer before the pandemic. Danish bookings were 46% higher, and more Germans and Britons will be travelling to Spain in the coming months than in 2019. The number of tourists from the United States was just 4% lower.

Airlines' seat capacity to Spain is 8% lower than before the pandemic for the summer months, and flight cancellations have not been significant, according to official figures.

A strike by Ryanair (RYA.I) workers on Thursday in Spain - one of several this month - has led to the cancellation of 28 of its flights to and from the country and more delays until midday, Spain's cabin staff union USO said.

Ryanair said less than 3% of its flights to and from Spain have been affected by the recent cabin crew strikes that started last weekend. read more

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Reporting by Corina Pons; additional information of Christina Thykjaer; Editing by Hugh Lawson and David Evans

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