ERTEs have been the measure that has supported the greatest impact of the coronavirus crisis, especially for tourism, where at the worst moment of the pandemic there were more than a million workers in the sector welcomed to them. And given the incidence of the second wave in Spain and Europe, which has led to the imposition of more restrictive measures on mobility and leisure, the Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, has confirmed that this mechanism will continue “as long as necessary” . Maroto assured that they have been a “very effective” measure that the Government trusts that “they have come to stay.” The minister explained that her intention is to incorporate this mechanism into the framework of labor relations “in a structural way” as occurs in other countries such as Germany, but while that is achieved, she stated that “they will be extended as long as necessary.”
In this way, the minister confirmed that the current extension of the ERTE due to coronavirus that is set until January 31 will be extended beyond that date, although she did not confirm until when. «We do not have deadlines but we do have certainties, it is a useful measure and workers and companies they need accompaniment at this time. We will see what the horizon is in the framework of social dialogue, “said Maroto during his speech at the ‘Tourism and Covid’ forum organized by Diario SUR with the sponsorship of Unicaja.
She also indicated that she has asked that the social agents already sit down with the Government to negotiate this extension of the ERTE because it is necessary to analyze the consequences of the new restrictions imposed by some communities in the face of the second wave of the virus. “The closure of all non-essential activity that Castilla y León has decreed could be extended to other communities and we must respond to the sectors most affected by it.” At the end of his intervention it was known that the Region of Murcia also joins this closure of the hotel industry for two weeks to contain the pandemic.
“The hospitality industry can’t take it anymore”
But the minister emphasized that the focus has been on the hospitality industry when trying to control the pandemic despite the fact that “they have very tough protocols to make them safe spaces”: “If we respect sanitary measures, there should be no problem in these establishments“, he pointed. For this reason, Maroto assured that he expects these measures to be “of a temporary nature” because he is clear that the sector “no longer supports any more restrictions, is in a very critical situation and that is why the administrations must help them by reducing their fixed costs.”
The Minister of Tourism trusts that the measures are “surgical, very localized and very temporary because the sector has prepared itself” to offer safe spaces, while appealing to the responsibility of citizens: “Respecting the distance and with masks we are protecting ourselves from the covid and also helping the hospitality industry and commerce to get ahead ».
Regarding the reduction in tourist VAT that the sector has been demanding for months, the minister confirmed that “There is little margin” for this by the “restrictive” European regulations. But he highlighted measures by some regional governments, such as Andalusia, where they have decided to deliver bonds to customers to stimulate demand.
Tourism, «key» for economic recovery
For Spain to remain a leader in tourism once the coronavirus crisis ends, it is essential that it be assumed that we are facing a “profound change, from the stage of childhood to that of maturity.” This was argued by Manuel Butler, executive director of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) during his speech at the forum organized by SUR. The organization estimates that in 2020 alone 120 million tourism jobs are at risk worldwide.
Coping with adversity requires “generous leaders to society in the public and private sectors. Especially since their calculations predict that the low demand lasts up to four years, in the worst case scenario. “It will depend on how international coordination develops, containing the virus and restoring the confidence of tourists,” he explained.
In his opinion, it is essential for Spain to continue betting on tourism in the coming years, because it is a “fundamental” element for recovery, as confirmed by the World Economic Forum itself. “Spain has some aces up its sleeve that it has known how to play very well in the previous stage and that it can also play now, such as natural wealth, diversity or history,” said Butler, who has no doubt that it would be a “mistake. »Give up that leadership.
“Tourism is not only the economic part that it reports to the country, but it is also social changes, international projection or the modernization of the country “, said the executive director of the organization, which” for at least another 45 years “will continue to have its world headquarters in Madrid.
The transportation revolution
Transportation is a fundamental piece in tourism. And the general director of Aena Airports, Javier Marín, explained the direct correlation between GDP and air traffic during his presentation at the Diario SUR forum, but stressed that the drop in transport is not only an economic issue, but of uncertainty. Thus, when the European borders were opened in June, traffic was recovering at a “higher than expected” rate.
However, the decision of the United Kingdom to force its residents to quarantine when returning from Spain caused the scheduled operations by the airlines to be canceled. In the same way, since the safe corridors between the United Kingdom and Germany with the Canary Islands were established on October 22, there have been flight searches multiplied by seven on the part of citizens, Marín stressed.
“Passengers want to fly and companies are prepared,” he remarked, so the Aena representative made it clear that air traffic will recover when the pandemic passes, although he acknowledged that reaching the 2019 figures “will cost a lot of work”