Government negotiates with the tourism giants in bid to save the summer


This has been a crucial week for Spanish tourism. After the reparative effect that President Pedro Sánchez’s words had last weekend, too late for some, Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto has held meetings with the main tour operators in a bid to try to save the summer season (third quarter of the year) and even carry the summer campaign through to October.

The head of Industry, Commerce and Tourism met last week with the top executives of the German company’s TUI and Condor, in addition to Jet2 Holidays, to assess the conditions required by the operators to bring tourists into Spain, with necessary security protocols, regardless of origin or destination. After losing about 15 million tourists in the second quarter, the hope is that as many millions more will be ready to come from July.

Related: TUI Coronavirus Information

The German giant assured Maroto on Thursday that it has committed up to a third of its volume for Spain, including the first holidaymakers that will arrive in the Balearic Islands in June as a ‘pilot’. After the collapse of the sector, which at one point had abandoned the year, the first rays of positivity (opening to foreigners without quarantine as of 1 July “have caused a most satisfying ‘ surprise ‘, with reserves shooting up in all the tourism segments.

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Until seven days ago, there were only “confused and unhappy messages”, regarding consumption (low value), Health (quarantine) and Labour (ERTE), as different industry players all acknowledged in public and private, and seldom has an intervention by President Sánchez during this crisis, had such a positive and diversified effect.

The Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations (CEHAT) said that it was delighted with the reaction of the market during this week, bearing in mind the loss of the second quarter (April, May and June).

As explained by its general secretary, Ramón Estalella, it must be borne in mind that a minimum season of six months is necessary to save the year, so it is necessary to attract the foreign tourist as soon as possible and to extend the season into late autumn.

As if that were not enough, Spain is competing with other destinations in the Mediterranean arc that are less affected by the coronavirus. From the Tourism portfolio most experts trust that Spain will not lose tourists in favour of other places due to a deterioration of the country brand, but rather due to the pure reduction in the number of tourists. This week, a German newspaper published a survey in which it was said that up to 37% of people will give up holidays due to economic uncertainty.

As the end of confinement period approaches, consumer sentiment is beginning to change, explains Nacho Bel, consulting partner at EY Phartenon. Although for the revival of the sector it is just as necessary to attract those from outside the country as well as mobilising those from within Spain.

As soon as a minimum of certainty has been achieved and there are clear sanitary regulations, demand will be reactivated by the sun and the beach, from the Paradores to the campsites.