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UPDATE 1-Travel to Spain collapses as coronavirus hits

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MADRID, Nov 3 (Reuters) - International tourist arrivals to Spain fell 87% year-on-year in September, data showed on Tuesday, as coronavirus restrictions and a rapid rise in cases put many off visiting.

After a disastrous summer season, when few visitors came despite the lifting of lockdowns, many had hoped the stricken tourist sector, which normally accounts for 12% of economic output, would improve in September.

But September’s year-on-year fall was even steeper than the 76% drop recorded in August, while tourists spent 90% less in September than in the same month a year ago.

Over the first nine months of the year, some 16.8 million foreign tourists visited Spain, around 75% fewer than in the same period of 2019, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.

France now accounts for the largest group of foreign tourists after the number of Britons - who last year made up a fifth of international visitors - plunged 81% between January and September.

Still, officials in the Canary Islands were optimistic that some of the winter season there could be salvaged after Germany and Britain removed travel restrictions to the archipelago

While Spain’s gross domestic product rebounded in the third quarter, the economy was still 8.7% smaller than a year ago.

Reporting by Nathan Allen, Editing by Inti Landauro and Ingrid Melander

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