Spain is one of the key pieces of the global tourist board. Its economic impact accounts for 13% of GDP and 14% of jobs. The arrival of covid-19, however, caused the sector to experience an abysmal contraction, which was expected to reverse in the summer. But the rise in regrowths across the state in recent weeks has dashed hopes placed during the months of July, August and September. The list of countries that advise not to travel to Spain is inflated and alarms have been raised among employers and organizations in the tourism sector, demanding more economic measures and, in some cases, even put on the table “the need for a rescue, “as happened with banking in the previous crisis.
“They have fallen like a bucket of cold water,” Emilio Gallego, secretary general of the Spanish Hospitality Business Confederation, told ARA when referring to the list of countries that have recommended not traveling to Spain. Gallego says that at the moment “the concern is maximum”, especially in those areas that depend on sun and beach tourism.
From this employer it is expected that one in five premises in the sector will close by covid-19. That’s why Gallego believes the state should approve “non-performing capital injections” for companies in the sector. Gallego warns that “there are many companies that are operating at a loss and will not be able to recover” and, in fact, the sector estimates that turnover will fall by 50%, to 67 billion euros. The idea of a rescue has also been raised by the Barcelona Hotel Guild. Its general manager, Manel Cases, believes that “now is the time” to take such a measure so that “the sector can return to normal”.
The fact is that in recent hours, the drip of countries that have imposed restrictions continues. This Tuesday, Berlin was the last country to be described as “inappropriate” to travel to Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon, as informs Gemma Terés, from Berlin. The announcement has generated uncertainty among those tourists who had planned to spend their holidays in Spain and who, in the Catalan case, account for 7.4% of the foreign tourism that Catalonia receives. The country, however, has not yet decreed that these communities be considered “official risk areas”, which means that neither mandatory tests nor quarantine will be applied to those who reach these areas.
On the other hand, it has been the British government that has also tightened restrictions on Monday, adding the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands to the recommendation not to travel there if it is not essential. informs Quim Aranda from London. Germany and the United Kingdom, together with countries such as Belgium, France and the Netherlands, are among the main emitters of international tourists to Spain.
In turn, there are organizations that for now prefer to be more prudent and do not currently consider putting this rescue on the table. This is the case of the Tourism Board, which, although it predicts that “the forecasts for September are very negative”, in the words of its president, Joan Molas, also advocates strengthening the measures approved by the Spanish government so far: from facilitating two-year grace period in the amortization of ICO guarantees, as they believe that in the face of the free fall in turnover “financing needs are not covered”, implement a 7% VAT for the sector as a whole, or extend ERTOs to December. In the midst of negotiations precisely on the possibility of extending this measure, who has ruled has been the CEOE. The employer, through a statement, has called the situation a “national emergency” and has called for expanding the files of temporary regulation of employment, at least among the sector.
Where employers and organizations do agree is in criticizing the communication strategy of the different administrations. “The decisions of some countries should have been countered earlier, with information and diplomatic action,” Gallego said. In this sense, the Spanish government continues to negotiate with the United Kingdom to reverse the decision to force quarantine. In fact, the Minister of Finance, Maria Jesús Montero, has insisted after the council of ministers on Tuesday that Spain is “an incomparable destination, a destination that has certainly been strengthened to deal with the resurgence.”
Meanwhile, the hope of the sector seems that, for now, it continues to put in the contribution that can leave the national tourism, where it has an important weight in territories like the Basque Country, Galicia or Andalusia, although the volume of Spanish tourists it does not reach the 83 million foreign visitors that the state registered last year.