MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish tourism should generate 65% of its pre-pandemic output this summer, industry association Exceltur said, despite a steep rise in COVID-19 cases that has pushed some countries to warn against visiting and Spanish regions to reimpose curfews.
The highly contagious Delta variant has been tearing through Spain's mostly unvaccinated younger people, leading the national infection rate to quadruple in two weeks to 437 cases per 100,000 people, though deaths and hospitalizations remain low.
Concerned by the surge, Germany and France have advised their citizens against travelling to Spain, whose economy is heavily reliant on tourism.
Still, Exceltur forecast on Wednesday that despite what it called a "very volatile phase", third-quarter tourism revenues that include domestic travel, should be 35% smaller than in the same period in 2019, recovering from a 58% slump last summer.
On the bright side, fully vaccinated Britons, who now must currently observe a 10-day quarantine on their return except if they travel to Balearic Islands, will be able to travel freely from July 19 in a major boost for the industry.
Exceltur urged the government to stress the current surge in cases was far less dangerous than previous waves, given that most vulnerable groups have already been vaccinated, while most new cases are among younger people who are less likely to fall seriously ill.
In an effort to counter the spiralling cases, tourism hotspot Valencia reimposed a night curfew on more than 30 towns on Monday while a local court rejected a similar request from the Canary Islands on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Emma Pinedo, Nathan Allen and Joan Faus, editing by Andrei Khalip and Toby Chopra)