MADRID – Spain faces a “tourist threat” from countries such as Greece and Turkey. These countries are at the forefront of welcoming foreign tourists by providing safe vacations. “Where is this message from Spain?” many wonder.
Last year, Spain was too late in letting the world know the country was a safe destination for tourists. Spain was busy managing the corona crisis. However, the same seems to be happening this year, writes Spanish news site El Español on Tuesday. Again, countries such as Greece and Turkey are already telling foreign tourists they have done everything they can to provide safe vacations. This while the Spanish government is continuing to work hard on vaccinating. But not promoting that the country is ready for tourists.
Tourism denounces Spanish government’s reluctance
Vice-president Zoreda of the tourist alliance Exceltur denounces this reticent attitude of the Spanish government. Greece even gave tourists a date of May 14 for the season to start again. Tourists who have been vaccinated, have antibodies or have tested negative for Covid-19 are very welcome. Turkey is sending a similar message and ensuring safe holidays. It is also vaccinating workers in the Turkish tourism industry before the summer season starts.
Uncertainty in message ministers Spain
Spain says it welcomes tourists “with open arms” as soon as travel is allowed again. But this message still seems very uncertain and unclear. Where Sánchez previously indicated that 70% of the population in Spain would be vaccinated before summer, he now believes he will not achieve that goal until the end of August.
This year, tourism Minister Reyes Maroto expects to be able to welcome half of the 84 million foreign tourists who came in 2019. However, achieving this goal is dependent on the delivery of vaccines and the pace of vaccination.
Tourists ignore Spain
Exceltur says that if the British, the main target group for tourism in Spain, are vaccinated and go abroad again on holiday after May 17, they will be more likely to choose a Covid-free country and not Spain where only at the end of the season the situation will be under control.
Zoreda indicates that in recent years, Spain has actually benefited from foreign tourism at the expense of the Middle Eastern countries because security could not always be guaranteed everywhere. Now tourists are more likely to choose these countries because Spain does not yet dare to guarantee safety.
Lack of clear message for all of Spain
The tourism industry believes the Spanish government should play a greater role in promoting foreign tourism. Especially as this area has suffered a lot of loss. There are some local initiatives, but there is no central government approach. Therefore, uncertainty continues to predominate in Spain.
Spain´s Independent Authority for Fiscal Responsibility (AIReF) previously estimated that international tourism could reach levels between 30-50% of a normal season by the summer of 2021. By the end of 2021, this could rise to 60-70%. AIReF does not expect full recovery until 2022.