October 25, 2020

UK quarantine puts Spanish tourism sector in check


MADRID

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The economic recovery that was to gain strength in the summer is on the wire in the face of the multiplying outbreaks and the decision by the United Kingdom to impose a two-week isolation on those citizens who come from Spain. The measure approved by the Government of Boris Johnson has fallen like a blow to the hopes of the tourism sector, which saw August as the month that could take off and which now faces a panorama in which our main tourist source market has taken out Spain from the list of countries safe against Covid-19. A measure similar to that adopted by other countries and which has caused the UK’s largest tour operator, TUI, You have canceled your vacation packages between the country and Spain until August 9, leaving out the Canary and Balearic Islands.

The decision, in short, puts at risk a summer campaign that was already in danger by the virus itself and that was presented as crucial for tourism, the sector most affected by the confinement these months and locomotive of the Spanish economy with 12% of the GDP of contribution -and that with related activities reaches 15% -.

Why 21% of international tourists to Spain come from the United Kingdom, according to the latest 2019 data from the INE: last year more than 18 million Britons passed through Spain, of which two million did so in August. Although the coronavirus crisis significantly reduced the sector’s forecasts, the London decision represents a blow to the recovery that was to take hold in the third quarter, after the second was the worst for the Spanish economy since statistical records exist.

The increase in infections in recent weeks has caused several countries to have taken measures against Spain. Before the UK, Norway dictated last Friday a ten-day isolation for visitors arriving from our country, while France He has recommended not to travel to Catalonia and studies to close its borders if the national situation does not improve. Along with it, Belgium advises against traveling to six communities (Aragon, Catalonia, Extremadura, La Rioja and the Basque Country) and prohibits traveling to Huesca and Lérida. Netherlands it imposes quarantine on those from the Segriá, (Lérida) and La Mariña (Lugo) regions. As to Germany, the second great foreign market for the Spanish tourism sector, its government is considering going further in its measures, although at the moment it only advises against traveling to Catalonia, Aragon, Navarra and the Balearic Islands.

«The example that can be given is very serious“Alerts the president of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV), Carlos Garrido, who pointed out to Rne that the decision of the United Kingdom” has very negative consequences for the sector because it means stopping everything again “.

The Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur) estimated before the UK decision that the sector faces a drop in activity this year of 83,134 million euros, with a decrease of 54.5% over the year 2019, and one million affected jobs (either because they are covered by ERTE or because of unemployment).

Now the broken can be immensely larger. British tourists spent last year in our country 17.985 million euros, a 17% of total outlay, 995 euros per person on average. August precisely is the month of the year with the highest spending by British tourists, since it is the one that coincides with the holidays of many of them, with 2,523 million last year. In that month, the average outlay by the British increased to 1,158 euros in 2019.

The president of the Mallorca Hotel Business Federation (FEHM), María Frontera, yesterday demanded that the Government “clearly communicate that there are territories within Spain where the evolution of the pandemic continues to be positive” so that the United Kingdom leaves them out of quarantine.

Because in the case of communities such as the Balearic Islands or the Canary Islands, where one in three tourists are British, the decision means cutting off the recovery at its roots. These regions were already the most affected by the crisis, being the most dependent on tourism: BBVA Research predicts that in the Balearic Islands the recession this year is -20% and -16% in the Canary Islands, compared to -11.5% forecast for the whole of Spain. The OECD warned that both regions could lose 40% of their jobs.

Hence, the Executive of Pedro Sánchez tries to exclude the Canary and Balearic Islands from the decision of the United Kingdom. At a time when spending by foreigners’ card was still 55% lower on July 19 than last year, according to real-time data from BBVA terminals, tourism faces a further blow to its economic improvement. And with it, the recovery of the entire economy is in danger.

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