SPAIN should ‘take advantage of the pandemic’ to ‘improve quality in its holiday industry’, says Secretary of State for Tourism Isabel María Oliver.
Speaking at the first Barcelona Virtual Summit 2020, Sra Oliver said the country should focus on an approach to tourism in line with the United Nations’ sustainable development aims, which include accessibility and a ‘digital transformation’ in destinations and among companies in the sector.
This approach would need ‘public authorities, companies and the workforce’ to join forces and pool efforts, ‘optimum public- and private-sector cooperation’, and for Spain to ‘continue to show its leadership’ in tourism development policies.
She assured Spain had ‘done its homework’ during the months of the Covid-19 shutdown, and had produced ‘at least 20’ information guides, approved by the ministry of health, in order to ‘guarantee maximum safety standards’.
“Reactivating the tourism industry needs to be not only safe, but also sustainable,” she stressed, and revealed that the government and professionals linked to the sector have ‘multiplied their efforts’ in this respect.
The pandemic and long lockdown initially led to fears Spain’s tourism industry, especially its summer holiday season, would be restricted or even lost – a result which would have been disastrous for a country that largely lives off national and foreign travellers.
But various bodies, including the Spanish Banking Association (AEB), the Catalunya Finance Institute (ICF), the Official Credit Institute (ICO) and Santander Bank, have all said they do not believe the tourism industry will suffer long-term, whilst companies in the sector say – via Expedia Group’s director for Spain and Portugal, Fernando Ramiro – that they expect the holiday market to recover well ‘provided there is no significant second outbreak’ of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Speaking at the Summit, Ramiro said the industry was ‘starting to gather traction’ in order to ‘meet the 2021 season in a happier place’.
Ramiro said it was ‘crucial for businesses to survive and continue trading’ in order for this to happen, and is in favour of increasing furloughs, or temporary lay-offs, where needed until at least late September, if not the end of the year.
He said that although the summer was vital, September and October onwards were also key months for business tourism and city breaks.
The AEB, ICO and ICF all believe Spain’s tourism industry will bounce back because of its ‘excellent quality’ and its being a mature, established destination.