The tourism sector faces its future with uncertainty due to the economic impact that the coronavirus will foreseeably cause in the summer season, key for this business, due to government measures that, according to its main actors, indicate to EFE-DowJones, they are insufficient.
Entrepreneurs and experts call for actions to ease the setback as restrictions on economic activity begin to be removed, and recall that Spain’s vigorous recovery after the 2008 financial crisis was underpinned by the growing weight of tourism, an industry that represents the 12th, 3% of national GDP.
“If there is no tourism, there is no economy,” says the president and founder of the Room Mate Group hotel chain, Kike Sarasola, who believes that the government has made only “attempts” but not forceful measures.
For this businessman it is essential that tourism can count on aid “both fiscal and liquidity, as well as access to credit” in order to survive.
Losses of income from the Spanish tourism sector this year are estimated at between 92,566 and 124,150 million euros, depending on whether the withdrawal of restrictions in this industry begins in summer or at the end of the year, according to Exceltur’s calculations.
Such figures are equivalent, in the worst case scenario, to around 10% of Spanish GDP.
In addition, according to CCOO, the temporary employment regulation (ERTE) files presented in the sector amount to about 125,000, and affect more than 800,000 workers.
As part of its de-escalation plan, the Government announced last week that hostels, hotels and tourist accommodation will be able to open, as soon as possible, as of May 11 – excluding the common areas and provided there is no setback in the health crisis -.
For its part, the outdoor terraces of bars and restaurants may do so with an occupancy of 50%; however, none will be able to receive clients from other provinces until the de-escalation is completed and free mobility will be allowed.
While the reception of this plan in the sector is being quite cold, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism argues that “tourism has been one of the most benefited by the measures of the Government”, and defends that the ERTE and the benefits for Freelancers are allowing to protect “more than 2.5 million people” active in these businesses.
NATIONAL DEMAND, TABLE OF SALVATION
The concern of the sector has been fueled by the statements of the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, who stated that tourism will not be fully operational again until the end of the year, says Marcos Franco, spokesperson for ObservaTUR, for whom this position “creates more uncertainty in the domestic market and in all foreign issuing countries. “
In this situation, some experts bet to relaunch the national demand as a salvation table, at least partial, during this summer.
José Luis Yzuel, President of Hospitality of Spain, the employers of the restaurant sector, sees an alternative in “interior tourism, local”, which would mean an injection of customers in the absence of English and German tourists who “came here to drink beer with pleasure and in abundance. “
“315,000 hospitality establishments have closed and 1.7 million people have been left out of their jobs, but if you add up the value chain it is a disaster,” he confesses.
To reactivate tourism, travelers need to regain their health confidence and not be afraid of getting it, according to industry agents, after Spain has exceeded 221,000 confirmed cases and 26,000 deaths from Covid-19.
Franco asks the Government to transfer a message of “standardization” of measures and protocols, an aspect in which Sarasola agrees, who has adapted his hotels by installing methacrylate partitions at receptions, planning how many people can get in an elevator or, in a first phase, planning to bring the breakfasts to the rooms.
This businessman sees it crucial that the Executive imitate South Korea and massive tests be carried out to guarantee “Covid-free” spaces that restart the engine of tourism, a sector in which, despite everything, “we are neither dead nor we’re going to die between now and the end of the year. “