Pent-up local demand boosts hotel bookings in Spain

MADRID, May 18 (Reuters) – Hotel bookings in Spain have soared since the national state of emergency and ban on leisure travel expired last week, unleashing pent-up local demand and fueling optimism in the struggling sector despite the dearth of foreign visitors. .

Reservations hit more than 70% of pre-pandemic levels in the days after the emergency decree ended, according to hotel data provider SiteMinder. Global hotel bookings, on the other hand, are around half of 2019 levels.

“We continue to have positive expectations, although we have to exercise caution,” said Sara Padrosa, SiteMinder country manager for Spain. “We are not going to find ourselves overnight in the same situation as two years ago.”

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Driving the recovery is an increase in last-minute bookings from Spaniards, who had been banned from traveling outside their home regions since October. Read more

But with most reservations allowing flexible cancellation and generous refunds, hoteliers can’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, Padrosa said.

“What we need is for (guests) to follow up on all these reservations…Until they get to the hotel, we can’t be 100% sure,” he said. she told Reuters.

Ramon Estalella, secretary general of the Spanish hotel federation CEHAT, welcomed the return of local tourism but stressed that a full recovery would depend on the return, en masse, of international travellers.

“Let’s face it, the internal market only covers 30% of Spain’s tourist beds,” he said.

Highlighting the importance of foreign visitors, booking platform eDreams (EDRE.MC), said it expected domestic tourists to spend around 150 euros per person on trips this summer, down 46% from compared to 2019.

Spain is rushing to set rules for safe travel, hoping to attract foreign visitors and salvage part of the crucial summer season after international arrivals plummeted by 80% last year. Read more

The government expects a rebound to just over half of 2019 levels this summer, but Estalella said some regions could see a recovery of up to 70% by September if a European passport program from vaccination is deployed on time. Read more

Majorca-based hotel chain Melia (MEL.MC) said bookings from German tourists over the past two weeks exceeded 2019 levels, with demand concentrated in the Balearic and Canary Islands, which Berlin sees as destinations sure.

“The big gap and the big unknown is the UK market, which is the most important for all of Spain,” said communications director Maria Umbert.

Britain allowed international travel to resume on Monday, but Spain is not on its so-called “green list”, meaning returnees must self-isolate upon arrival.

Madrid is lobbying the UK government to reclassify individual regions like the Balearic Islands and Valencia, which have a lower infection rate than Britain, as safe vacation spots.

After London allowed travel to Portugal, hotels there were inundated with inquiries from the British. Read more

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Reporting by Nathan Allen; Editing by Giles Elgood

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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