The summer in a tourist key has not been bad, but it has not met expectations either. According to INE data, Spain has closed the summer season by receiving 16.5 million international tourists, still 56.3% less than in 2019. According to the forecasts made by the Government and the Ministry of Tourism, for the months of June, July, August and September were expected to arrive close to 18 million, that is, halfway to the data of two years ago. However, the restrictions of third countries, especially the United Kingdom, which did not fully open its borders until the end of July, made it difficult to meet this objective.
In terms of spending, the goal was even further away. Specifically, in those four months, international tourists spent 18,589 million euros, 56.9% less than the summer before the pandemic. Therefore, although in the summer season the first green shoots have been seen after a year and a half of crisis, the truth is that this beginning of recovery has been supported more by national tourists than by foreigners.
The delays in the opening of the borders also complicate the arrival of 50 million tourists at the end of the year in the whole of 2021, as estimated by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in the last edition of Fitur. And all this despite the fact that the trend is on the rise and each month some point of the difference with the 2019 figures is cut, both in tourist arrivals and in spending. But in absolute terms, once the summer is over, the tourism figures are lower.
In September, almost 4.7 million foreign tourists arrived in our country, 47.4% less than before the pandemic. With this figure, in the first nine months of the year the arrival of tourists has already exceeded the numbers registered in 2020. So far this year almost 19.7 million foreign travelers have come, while in all of last year only 18.9 million arrived. Despite this, compared to the last normal year, Spain has received 70.6% less until September.
By country, Germany, as in most of the summer, continued to be the main source of tourists in September, although the British are gradually cutting ground and it is expected that sooner or later they will regain first place, as was usual before of the crisis. Thus, the German country brought together 17% of the visits (more than 829,000), while the United Kingdom brought more than 785,000. For its part, France continues to lead this statistic in the accumulated of the year with 4 million tourists, while Germany has 3.4 million and the United Kingdom with just 2.3.
The greater arrival of Germans favored the Balearic Islands, their favorite destination, which was the region that received the most tourists in September, with more than 1.1 million. Specifically, almost 1 in 4 foreign travelers who came to Spain in September went to the Balearic archipelago. In this way, the islands continue to increase their advantage over the rest of the communities so far this year, with more than 5 million visitors, while the second, Catalonia, had 3.7 million in the first nine months. The Canary Islands are expected to emerge in the coming months, favored by their high season, which began in October, and by, despite the tragedy for many families, the attractiveness of the La Palma volcano for curious tourists.
As for tourist spending in September, this amounted to 5,041 million euros, 48.1% less than two years ago. As with the arrival of tourists, the accumulated until September already exceeds that registered in 2020, but compared to 2019 it is 70.2% less. By countries, Germany was also the one that spent the most, with 955 million euros, and remains at 27% of what they spent in the same month two years ago. It is followed by the United Kingdom, with 825 million, but in this case it is still at 62% of the pre-pandemic levels.