War. Afraid. Travel. Tourism. Concepts almost unfortunately reflected through the terrible image everyone contemplates, in any Ukrainian street, of an inert arm sticking out from under a blanket, and close to the suitcase with which that mother - close to the bodies, also inert, of his two sons - intended to flee
Now, put into perspective -present and future- the infamous invasion of Ukraine by Russia, it would even make sense those initial reflections about the coronavirus, which came to manifest -according to informative echoes coming from a distant and far east- what of 'they say it's like a cold'. Because – they will agree with me – that, in the face of war, covid is indeed a flu.
Monday, March 14 marks two years, two, since the Government of Spain decreed, in 2020, the State of Alarm throughout the country to deal with the expansion of the pandemic. And we are very aware of what this has generated in this time of fighting the virus. Since the worst of the pandemic, the death of thousands and thousands of people. Going through an almost absolute paralysis of the economy ('zero tourism' in the Canary Islands). Even delving into society in general in a more exhaustive administrative knowledge of the temporary employment regulation files, the ERTE. Until the achievement in record time, by the scientific community, of these protective vaccines, minimizing vital risks.
Vaccines, in turn, enhancers of an economic and labor reactivation that, once again, at this start of 2022 put us back on the path of a recovery that, now, did present solid credentials of stability and prosperity. Just as the latest unemployment data had been showing -on the one hand, and in the case of the Canary Islands- (returning to 'normal' before the pandemic, with around 200,000 unemployed on our islands).
Or, for its part, the data and figures of recent tourist activity, recovering the archipelago, in the first month of this year 22, up to 70% of the total number of foreign tourists (760,000) of the million one hundred thousand visitors that we used to receive monthly before Covid. With the consequent positive addition of a tourist turnover -in recent January- of almost 1,130 million euros. This economic signal that, in our favor, indicated that the tourists we have been receiving after the lifting of the restrictions, have come 'wanting to enjoy and spend'. Our visitors have decided not only to spend a few more days on the islands, but also, on average, to spend about €200 more than they previously spent on their vacations.
But, oh, the third part of the trilogy that none of us expected, but of which the US intelligence services had made some other 'spoiler': the atrocious invasion of Ukraine by Russia, with -among others- the false argument of "denazifying" Ukraine. The nuclear and powerful autocracy of a tsarist devouring the peaceful and humble democracy of a humorist.
Tank convoys entering the adjoining courtyard of the administratively named European Union. Unjust, unjustified, despicable deaths. People without water or food, children's hospitals bombed, mass graves…in the Europe of the 21st century. No longer in the geographical distance of a devastated Aleppo in Syria, which in 2010 had 4.6 million inhabitants. And now it counts… in the list of ghost towns razed to the ground and in ruins due to armed conflicts and/or terrorism. That said, right here.
And in a hard and difficult mental exercise of emotional isolation regarding the conflict, the economy. Affected as it was – globally, regionally and individually – both by structural and theoretical economic concepts around the crazy inflation and price increases. As for logistical and material events as grotesque as... those of a cargo ship crossed in the Suez Canal, stranded in the wet sand of the desert, and causing chaos in the global distribution chain.
And tourism? Again before the scenario of uncertainty. Since, in the face of a military conflict, the factors of its duration, its extension (territorial) and its modes (traditional warfare or cyber warfare), influence in the first place -positively or negatively- that a tourist destination such as the Canary Islands, far from the continent , whether favored or not by the consequent diversion of tourists fleeing from destinations closer to the conflict (Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria,...).
This happened on the occasion of the outbreak of the Gulf War (1991), the Iraq War (2002) or the Arab Spring (2010), with the Canary Islands always 'benefiting' from the misfortunes of others. But reiterating the consideration that we must be leaders, not because of the misfortunes of others. And yes, because of our strengths, potential and ability to 'improve' certain deficiencies –especially in public infrastructures- that cause pain in our eyes.
But, secondly, continuing with the current warlike condition, on this occasion other complementary factors come into play which, depending on the continuing destructive drift that we are perplexed to contemplate, may not 'favour' us in the near future: the increase in ticket prices flights, given the reduction in available oil. The increase in the prices of the products and/or articles destined to provide the tourist service. The breaking of stocks of basic elements for the provision of said services (a graph «what do we fry the potatoes with if the oil does not arrive?»). And, hovering over the entire economic condition linked to rising prices and the progressive reduction of available products, the worst factor of all: fear.
Fear to fly. Fear of not being able to return to the country of origin if the conflict festers and crosses borders that hopefully will not be crossed. Territorial and, even less, of a weapons type. Because with 'lead in the wings' –the risk of a sudden halt in international air mobility-, 'silver is not' –the economy again, if this Russian expansionist nonsense is not cut off- on the way to 'the garete'.
War. Afraid. Travel. Tourism. Concepts almost unfortunately reflected through the terrible image everyone contemplates, in any Ukrainian street, of an inert arm sticking out from under a blanket, and close to the suitcase with which that mother - close to the bodies, also inert, of their two children- intended to flee from barbarism, and reach the desired and first destination, already unattainable for them: that of life and freedom.
David Morales Deniz. President SKAL International Tourism of Gran Canaria @DavidMDeniz