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Tourism is not dead yet - Part 2

Tourism is not dead yet - Part 2

A look at how some of the Spanish cities and regions affronted the coronavirus summer

There is no way around it – the summer of 2020 was horrendous for the state of tourism. But what did that mean? Was it all doom and gloom? Today, we look at Spain, one of the most visited countries in Europe but also one of the most affected by border closures and restrictions.

This summer, which officially ended just a few days ago, has left the Iberian tourist industry reeling from the consequences. In Part 1, we looked at what Porto had decided to do about it. In this article, we will see how some of the Spanish local and regional authorities are responding to the challenge posed to such an important sector for their economies.

Will the Spanish tourism industry rebound?

Yes, the statistics are out, and they are not for the faint of heart. Airplane arrivals this summer dropped down more than 70% when compared to the same period of 2019 and so did overnight stays. But let us look at some examples which show that there is a silver lining to every dark cloud.

On 23 September, the Valencian Autonomous Region held its annual Tourism Awards which honour innovative practices and business ventures in the local industry. Although the winners received their awards for activities they had developed last year, the organizers also decided to show their recognition to the role of the hospitality sector during the first coronavirus wave.

The unexpected contribution of the sector to the measures needed to withstand the pandemic was applauded. We were all reminded that hotels, such as Hotel Luz Castellón, Hotel AC Valencia and Complejo San Juan in Alicante opened their doors to patients and were expressly converted to hospitals accepting COVID-19 patients. Catering NGO’s provided free meals and we were able to see that the social economy can partner with the tourism sector for a common cause.

Turning their attention to the domestic visitors

This was probably the first summer season in several decades which saw the share of Spanish tourists supersede that of foreign ones. This may seem unusual but to many, it represented the perfect opportunity for the local industry to get reacquainted with the neighbouring residents. Gaining back the trust of the international tourist would not make sense without doing the same first for the domestic one.

Here is an example. The Government of Andalusia decided to issue tourist vouchers that will offer 25% discount on trips within that region, provided that those trips include staying in hotels for at least 3 nights and are purchased through participating travel agencies certified with “Safe Andalusia” seal. These vouchers will be available from 1 October and are a clear sign of commitment to support both the tourist enterprises and their customers.

In Cádiz, it was reported that some 90% of the visitors originated from Spain which was actually seen as a welcoming sign and an opportunity to further develop products and services targeted to that audience.

The current situation has also served for Cádiz to be discovered by many national tourists and this is also a very positive fact because in this way we become a choice for them to repeat in other circumstances. Once they discover us and get to know our excellence they tend to return,” said Monte Mures, Tourism Councillor of Cádiz.

Going all the way up to the northern coast of the country in the city of San Sebastian we find that the local tourism councillor Cristina Lagé shares a similar sentiment. This is in view of the fact that when compared to the national averages mentioned above the Basque city has fared better in terms of arrivals (with 20% less than 2019) and hotel stays (25.7% less than 2019).

Councillor Lagé is of the opinion that this proof that tourists have placed their trust in the safety measures taken in the city. The feedback has been heard by the authorities and they are appreciative that their efforts seem to be on the right track.

This gives us great peace of mind and encourages us to keep planning campaigns and activities for an autumn that everyone believes is also going to be tough," concluded Cristina Lagé.



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