The rate of occupancy in Spanish hotels more than halved in the first six months of the year, a study showed on Thursday, as a three-month coronavirus lockdown, travel bans, and quarantine rules hurt the tourism-dependent country.
With tourism accounting for around 12% of Spain's economy, the 33% average occupancy rate of hotels from January to June - compared with 73% during the same period last year - was especially damaging.
An increase in domestic tourism as the lockdown eased has brought some relief, but with hotels slashing room rates to attract holidaymakers, the road to a more permanent recovery could take longer, said consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield and hotel benchmarking specialist STR, which conducted the study.
"Local holidaymakers' demand, especially during weekends, is the first step towards recuperation," said Javier Serrano of STR. "The sector is moving in the right direction to begin a recovery which will inevitably be slow."
The northeastern region of Catalonia, a leading tourist hotspot, saw hotel occupancy dive 58% in Barcelona, while the capital Madrid lost 46% of its 2019 levels.
Hotels in the Balearic Islands, a popular destination for German and British tourists, suffered the steepest drain on their visitors, losing 65.6% occupancy in the period despite having been spared the worst of the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic has hit the world's second-most visited country hard, with 28,424 deaths so far.
On Wednesday, Spain's Hospitality Industry Association said some 40,000 bars and restaurants had already shut down permanently as a result of the pandemic.