The tourism sector follows an unstoppable ascending line. It has managed to close the second quarter with activity levels above the same period in 2019 (+1.1%) and confirms that the 'boom' in demand will continue in the summer. The desire to travel that two years of the pandemic have left behind continue to drive the movements of national tourists, but above all, they have brought the return of the main source markets for Spain and the rest of European travelers. A series of joys under which it is expected that the tourism GDP at the end of the year will be placed at 151,798 million euros, according to data from the Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur). Everything, despite the weak first quarter left by the expansion of Ómicron and the slowdown in activity that is expected in the autumn.
Exceltur already forecasts that in the third quarter of the year the tourist GDP registered in 2019 during the same period will be exceeded. Specifically, they expect to close 2% above what was a record summer period for the whole of tourist activity. Some forecasts, which they assure, have already been contrasted by the levels of sales and reserves that they already have on the books at this point, both for European and national demand.
But, the 'blazing' demand will not be able to be taken advantage of 100% by some firms that continue to be highly punished by the debt accumulated during the health crisis and the increase in costs. The tourism employers indicate that the turnover of tourism companies will be "nevertheless" slightly lower in its translation to GDP due to the greater use of accommodation and other services (own car, own accommodation or that of family and friends, tourist rental housing etc.), "which provide less added value and multiplier effects at the local level".
But above all, it will be the spectacular increase in energy and food costs that will prevent tourism activity from getting a greater share of the summer. The companies in the sector indicate in the survey that they will only be able to transfer 23% of the extra costs they are suffering to the price. And they understand that the rise in prices that is taking place to a greater extent among hotel companies (+9%) is still below what the CPI data marks. An increase that they consider adjusted and, in any case, "this improvement in income is going to be aimed at paying the debts of the tourism sector", said the executive vice president of Exceltur, José Luis Zoreda, during the presentation of forecasts for the third and fourth trimester.
All in all, the recovery will be uneven between subsectors. Vacation hotels (+0.4% 3Q22 vs 3Q19) and urban (-1.1%), coastal hotels, rent-a-car companies (+1.7%) and other leisure services in vacation areas (golf courses +3.7%; leisure parks +7.4%) are the most optimistic subsectors regarding their expectations of recovery, especially their large groups, and with an improvement in travel agencies (-6.0% compared to -24.2% in 2Q22 vs 2Q19) and among them, the best positioned in the online channel.
The same uneven scenario will be found between geographical areas. Island destinations (Balearic Islands +3.6% and Canary Islands +3.5%) and holiday destinations on the Mediterranean coast (Andalusian coast +7.4% and Valencian +5.3%) with a high presence of both European and Spanish demand in the months of summer, they estimate on average a third quarter already above the last quarter before the pandemic. For their part, urban destinations with a more playful leisure offer and demand share this tone, «while those most dependent on business tourism and oriented towards long-haul international demand (Madrid -1.8%, Barcelona +0 .8%, Andalusian cities -3.4% and Basque cities -1.5%) are more cautious about the intensity and the moment in which they can consolidate their full recovery. Meanwhile, inland destinations are discounting on average a summer similar to that of 2019 and Green Spain will achieve a full recovery on average compared to that same year," the report states.
But the turbulence could come in the fall. As this newspaper already anticipated, the sector is looking askance at the macroeconomic indicators that already point to a sharp drop in consumption as of October. They fear that they will be settled with the elimination of second trips by families. Exceltur, with the data available today, believes that there will be a slowdown in demand, but not a sharp drop, and they point out that tourism GDP for the last quarter will be 3.2% below that of 2019.
Bankruptcy moratorium for the sector
Despite the improvement in forecasts, Exceltur insists that the sector is not yet fully recovered and therefore asks the Government to have mechanisms that help companies not to declare bankruptcy. Among these measures, the elimination for one year of the forced entry into dissolution that marks today the legislation after the end of the bankruptcy moratorium. In the case of airlines, Exceltur asks that this moratorium be extended to a minimum of seven years as they are companies that have suffered the most severely from the stoppage of the health crisis.
Finally, they also demand greater regulation of tourist homes. Therefore, they ask the political authorities to take advantage of the new Housing Law, to provide legal certainty and "comply with the regional and local regulations that try to adapt the phenomenon of tourist housing with the preservation of identity and quality of life locally". In this sense, Zoreda has already announced that they will present a report together with the main city councils (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, San Sebastián and Valencia) to narrow down the problem.