MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish holiday rentals for August are more heavily booked than before the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to domestic tourism and a perception that rented properties are safer than hotels, Spain's leading holiday booking website Rentalia said on Wednesday.
The occupancy of apartments and houses leased to tourists during the summer is set to rise to 89.2% next month, 12 percentage points above year-ago levels and just above 88.5% registered in 2019, before the pandemic struck, Rentalia said.
The highest rates of above 94% are expected in the Balearic Islands of Menorca and Mallorca, as well as in the mainland resort area of Alicante.
Domestic tourists staying in Spain amid lingering travel restrictions in many countries, as well as the feeling that a rented property provides a safer environment than a hotel, have boosted demand, said Rentalia director Almudena Ucha.
"Additionally, given the restrictions to leisure activities in some regions, many families or groups are looking for accommodation where they can have parties unaffected by the limitations," she said.
Spain's tourism industry was devastated by the travel restrictions imposed last year to curb the pandemic.
Only 19 million foreign tourists came to Spain in 2020, down from more than 80 million before the pandemic. The irregular easing of restrictions has brought back some tourists though officials expect only about half as many tourists from abroad this summer as before the pandemic.
(Reporting by Cristina Galán; Editing by Inti Landauro and Peter Graff)