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Nine million foreigners visited Spain in July, near pre-pandemic levels

FILE PHOTO: People enjoy the weather on a beach in Malaga, Spain, April 30, 2022. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

More than twice as many tourists visited Spain in July than in the same month last year, a number only slightly below pre-pandemic levels, National Statistics Institute data showed on Thursday.

The 9.1 million visitors in July spent close to 12 billion euros ($12 billion), more than twice as much as in 2021. Tourism earnings are a significant component of Spain's gross domestic product.

Before COVID-19 put a halt to international travel in 2020, Spain received a record number of foreign tourists in 2019, with 9.9 million visiting in July of that year.

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

Asian visitors were the only group who have not returned to the country in the same numbers, secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdes told national broadcaster TVE.

"(Asian tourists) are probably the ones we are missing to reach 100% of the 2019 figures," he said.

He said the absence of Russian tourists since Russia's invasion of Ukraine was compensated for by more travellers from other countries.

Spain's government expects tourist arrivals to reach 90% of pre-pandemic volumes during this year's summer season, as northern Europeans shrug off concerns over inflation and book even more trips than in 2019.

($1 = 0.9969 euros)

(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Inti Landauro and John Stonestreet)

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