Almost a quarter of adults (as at September 2020) said they would consider visiting Spain before COVID-19 is fully over. This would obviously depend on a number of factors including government advice against non-essential travel, quarantine arrangement and the level of infections in the UK and regions of Spain visited. Any who do visit in the opening months of 2021 are likely to show significant behavioural changes. Visitors will be far more health and safety conscious and will also seek out less crowded areas to stay. Last-minute booking will be the norm and visitors will seek advice from travel experts.

Tentative growth is expected to gather pace only when the health threat of the pandemic has fully receded. In the longer term, consumer demand is expected to fully return. Mintel expects the market value of holidays to Spain to surpass pre-COVID levels in 2025, but volumes are still likely to remain short.

The biggest threat, once the pandemic begins to recede, is the impact of the ‘COVID-19 recession’, coupled with the potential economic disruption of Brexit when the UK leaves the EU in January 2021. A longer lasting economic slump could see consumers switching in large numbers from overseas to domestic holidays, particularly if the Pound continues to fall.

Looking further ahead, Spain’s popularity as the UK’s favourite sun, sea, sand destination will kick-start the post-COVID recovery, but future opportunities lie in diversification into other, higher value and more ‘sustainable’ tourism products, including Spain’s heritage cities, independent touring/active and ‘slow travel’, and special interest holidays.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on holidays to Spain.

  • Future interest in visiting Spain and likely behavioural changes amongst visitors in 2021.

  • Future interest and opportunities in types of holiday to Spain.

  • The main attractions of Spain as a holiday destination.

COVID-19: market context (created 1 November 2020)

The first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the UK at the end of January, with a small number of cases in February. A full UK lockdown requiring people to stay at home except for essential shopping, exercise and work followed on 23 March. Relaxations to lockdown rules were gradually introduced from late May onwards. In the UK pubs, restaurants, accommodation and many leisure facilities and tourist attractions were allowed to re-open from 4 July 2020. Restrictions on overseas travel began to be lifted from 10 July 2020. For further details on the evolution of travel and quarantine rules affecting holidays to Spain since July 2020 please see Market Background.

On 14 October 2020, following a rising ‘second wave’ of infections, the government introduced a three-tier system of restrictions across England, with ‘Medium’, ‘High’ and ‘Very High’ alert levels. Those in the ‘Very High’ tier were advised to avoid travelling outside of this area. On 5 November 2020, these tiers were replaced with an England-wide lockdown, initially in place until 2 December. This included restrictions on domestic and overseas travel, except for essential work purposes. As of 1 November, Scotland had its own 5-tier system of restrictions but no national lockdown had been introduced, whilst Wales had introduced a short ‘firebreak’ lockdown from 23 October to 9 November.

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on the Office for Budget Responsibility’s central scenario included in its July 2020 Fiscal Sustainability Report. The scenario suggests that UK GDP could fall by 12.4% in 2020, recovering by 8.7% in 2021, and that unemployment will reach 11.9% by the end of 2020, falling to 8.8% by the end of 2021. The current uncertainty, however, means there is wide variation on the range of forecasts, which is reflected in the OBR’s own scenarios. In its upside scenario, economic activity returns to pre-COVID-19 levels by Q1 2021. The OBR's more negative scenario, by contrast, would mean that GDP doesn’t recover until Q3 2024.

We are working on the assumption that a vaccine will be available by mid-2021, but that there will be continued disruption to both domestic and global markets for much of 2021. We are assuming, as of 1 November 2020, that there will be not be a second full UK national lockdown on the scale and duration of March-May 2020. However continuing restrictions and partial lockdowns are expected at local level as part of the government’s new three tier system of restrictions introduced on 12 September. Temporary ‘circuit-breaker’ full-lockdowns are possible at local or national level. Social distancing will remain the norm in the UK and abroad until the health threat has abated, and other local restrictions (eg for hospitality venues) will also continue to change in overseas as well as UK destinations.

Products covered in this Report

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel has used the following definition: holidays refer to overnight trips abroad of one night or more made for leisure purposes.

Data for the overseas market is for the United Kingdom and sourced from the ONS’s (Office for National Statistics) IPS (International Passenger Survey).

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