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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-COVID-19 travel restrictions ravaged Spain hotel bookings in August

(Corrects second paragraph to number of nights booked in hotels from occupancy rate.)

MADRID, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Travel restrictions around Europe aimed at curbing coronavirus contagion ravaged Spain’s tourism industry during the crucial month of August, depriving it of millions of tourists.

The number of nights booked in Spanish hotels fell 64% last month from a year ago, data from the National Statistics Institute showed on Wednesday.

In the first eight months of the year, hotel bookings slumped 70% from the same period in 2019.

Travel restrictions imposed by European countries during the summer, amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections in Spain, have hit Spanish hotels hard after they emerged from a strict lockdown that had kept them shut between mid-March and late June.

Hotel bookings by British tourists plummeted over 91% in August, meaning the country lost about 1.1 million British visitors alone, while bookings from Germany were down 80%, the data showed. The Balearic islands lost 86% of their foreign tourists compared to a year earlier.

The tourism sector accounts for about 12% of the Spanish economy, providing more than one job in eight. Spain, one of the world’s most visited countries, received more than 80 million foreign visitors each year, mainly from European countries. (Reporting by Inti Landauro and Belen Carreno Editing by Ingrid Melander, Andrei Khalip)

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