May 16, 2021

The chimera of luxury | Economy

The chimera of luxury | Economy


The history of Spanish tourism could be summed up in a constant increase of sun and beach tourists, efficient cause of the conversion of the coast in an endless line of asphalt, and the verbal pretension to increase the quality of visitors. Real mass tourism versus quality tourism "dreamed of". It is understood that in Spain there has always been a quality tourism, but so minority that does not sustain the market by itself. The preeminence (overwhelming) of sun and beach tourism explains the weakness of the business structure of the sector in Spain; small companies, suppliers of precarious and poorly paid jobs and, as a rule, have a high mortality, although, while they survive, they do so by outsourcing their costs (noise, pollution, overcrowding, infrastructure collapse) to the urban environment.

The transformation, even partial, of sun and beach tourism in quality tourism requires, at least, a great investment effort. The revenues that accumulate for retail in the first, without the need for a large initial investment, are difficult to extract in the second, because the number of customers is lower and because the fixed assets are more expensive. The problem is that there comes a time when the excellent average quality of Spanish accommodation can no longer satisfy a demand that has been massified by the lowest incomes, because the price order is too high for what alluvial tourism. That's when Airbnb appears. And there is also a pressure of the supply of luxury tourism, sometimes based on expectations, which forces us to think about investments for the luxury visitor. And in those we are.

It is very likely that mass tourism will be less intense in 2019. The causes are well known and the main one is that several Mediterranean countries that compete with Spain are back in the market after overcoming problems ranging from political instability to religious conflicts . This circumstance may indicate the opportune moment to launch the quality tourism market. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but the truth is that 15 projects are currently under construction of luxury hotels in Spain, which will join the 75 already in operation. The insignia of this movement will be the launch in 2019 of the first Four Seasons in Madrid and the landing of the Mandarin chain. The effect of luxury projects should not be disregarded as an indicator of a demand for higher quality tourism and, therefore, with a greater contribution to the economy.

Prices have to rise in the most qualified offer segment. However, quality tourism has a very interesting sociourbanístico effect: its expansion contributes to decongest urban areas overwhelmed by the presence of mass tourism or low quality; reduces the percentage of weak or opportunistic businesses and constitutes by itself a factor of stabilization of employment in its activity. These advantages were evident when the tourist boom broke out in the sixties, but the conditions of investment and financing produced a model whose benefits are evident but whose costs become more expensive each day.

In short, it could be said that high-end tourism is the best antidote to the so-called tourismism, which in turn is a reaction of tiredness before the costs that citizens have to pay for the concentration of visitors in areas without adequate infrastructure.

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