MADRID - The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain in August remained well below the 10.12 million who came in August 2019 before pandemic-related travel restrictions ravaged the industry, but their spending approached the levels of three years ago.

Tourist numbers increased by 70% in August from the same month last year to 8.82 million, official data from the Statistics Institute INE showed on Tuesday.

As a result of higher prices, the fewer tourists spent almost as much as in August 2021, 11.26 billion euros ($11.10 billion), down from 11.70 billion in August 2019.

"The spending on tourism is an indicator that measures how we managed to exit the pandemic by strengthening the quality of our tourism industry," Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said on state broadcaster TVE.

The tourism-dependent Spanish economy had recorded one of the deepest economic contractions in Europe in 2020 and is still struggling to get back to pre-pandemic levels.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro, editing by David Latona and Ed Osmond)