BRITISH tourists could be returning to Spain as early as May following the success of the UK’s vaccination programme, tourism bosses have said.

Director of the Palma Tourism Board Pedro Homar told Telegraph Travel he was ‘confident’ that Mallorca summer holidays would be back this year.

“With the rate in which the UK is rolling out the vaccination, we are confident that the UK market will be one of the first to return to Palma,” he said.

“In terms of timings, we expect the UK market to return from around May onwards.”

It comes after more than 10 million people have received their first coronavirus jab in the UK, while Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of fully vaccinating every adult by August.

Homar added that any summer holiday plans would also depend on the evolution of the pandemic in both countries over the coming weeks and months, but that May was a ‘realistic target’ for Brits to return.

In terms of Easter holidays, the tourism chief said it is less likely that Brits could return so quickly, but added it was ‘too early to say.’

Other regions, such as Andalucia, have yet to put a date on when they expect British holidaymakers back.

Tourism black hole cause by COVID

Figures released this week showed that foreign tourist numbers to Spain dropped by 77.3% year-on-year in 2020, with just 19 million holidaymakers flying in from abroad.

Those 19 million spent a total of €19.74 billion, representing a year-on-year decrease of 78.5% (down from a record-breaking €92.278 billion in 2019).

The grim data was released by the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the Tourist Expenditure Survey (Egatur) and the Border Movements Survey (Frontur).

The figures would have likely been far dire had the country not enjoyed an almost restriction-free first quarter.

Andalucia was the third most visited region by foreing tourists, accounting for 14.3% of those who visited the country. It was preceded by Catalunya, home to Barcelona, and the Canary Islands, which took 25% of foreign tourists’ spending last year.

The tourists which came to Spain in 2020 were mostly from France, the UK and Germany.

But Brits saw the biggest drop, with 82.4% fewer visiting Spain last year compared to 2019.

The number of French and German visitors fell year-on-year by 65.2% and 78.4% respectively.

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