The Spanish tourism sector has gone from generating 154,000 million euros in 2019, to 53,000 million in 2020 , which represents a drop in its weight in GDP from 12.4% to 4.7% due to the effects of the pandemic.
However, in 2021 it recovers the path of growth and will exceed 86,000 million, 7.4% of GDP, according to data from Exceltur shared by the director of the Department of Studies and Research of this institution, Óscar Perelli, in the last conference of IvieLAB, the Ivie Policy Evaluation Laboratory and the Generalitat Valenciana.
For Perelli, the main driving force behind the recovery has been the Spanish vaccination rate, one of the fastest in the world, which has generated consumer confidence to book their trips within Spain . The domestic market has been decisive , as shown by the hotel demand data, “while the Spanish demand for hotels was in October of this year already 8% above that of 2019 , the foreign one is still 33.5% below the one before the pandemic. ”
The director of the Exceltur Studies and Research Area offered on Monday the conference ‘A constructive vision on post-covid scenarios for Spanish tourism’, organized by the Ivie, within the IvieLAB conference cycle. The event was chaired by the Regional Secretary for Tourism, Francesc Colomer; and the deputy director of the Ivie, Joaquín Maudos.
During his talk, Óscar Perelli recalled the bill for the Covid-19 crisis in the Spanish tourism sector, which has stopped earning $ 167 billion since the start of the pandemic. Around 400,000 workers on a monthly basis have been affected by layoffs or ERTE and the sector accumulates 23,000 million in debt just for the financing requested through the ICO.
Debt is precisely one of the problems that Perelli wanted to highlight, since, in his opinion, this will make the sector very weakened, despite the fact that tourism demand will continue to exist . “The Spanish tourism company will have more difficulties to compete in the global market because it has received less direct aid than in other countries and has had to borrow much more,” he explained.
Another of the effects of the crisis on which the expert wanted to influence is the high number of companies that have disappeared, especially SMEs, which would have to be saved because they were healthy before the pandemic . In addition, it has warned about the flight of trained workers who have begun to look for their future in other sectors.
On the contrary, he has highlighted some positive things derived from the crisis in tourism such as: the acceleration in the digitization process of some processes, the greater environmental sensitivity by companies and tourists, the movements aimed at a greater business concentration and and finally, changes in travel patterns and new tourist profiles.
Perelli was optimistic about the future of tourism, although he was aware of the new uncertainties generated by the so-called sixth wave and the variant of the Omicron virus. The Exceltur expert believes that the crisis will serve to make a “quantum leap in the sector , since it will increase the recognition of tourism because it has been seen that it is a vital need”.
However, it insists on the profound changes that have to take place and on the need to make new investments to maximize tourism phenomena with less environmental impact and greater social contribution.
Finally, he pointed out the five major challenges that, from his point of view, the tourism sector has to face: improving governance; transform the offer of sun and beach with new investments to increase its value, since it represents 70% of tourism GDP; manage the uncontrolled growth of tourist housing in cities, which in six years has exceeded the supply of hotel rooms; promote an intermodal system between different types of transport and reduce the ecological footprint of tourism.