Ramón Estalella, Secretary General of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT), outlines the conditions necessary for the recovery of tourism during the coming year and points out some challenges that the sector will have to overcome, including better connectivity and the repayment of ICO loans.
Ramón Estalella outlines some major challenges for the tourist sector in 2022, including a return to normality for travel and the relaunch of the most hard hit segments, such as MICE tourism. “Business travel needs to bounce back, and companies will find that personal interaction is much better than distance communication, because while digital communication is good for transmitting data it’s not so good when it comes to reaching agreements”. At the same time, “trade fair tourism will make a comeback, as people will realise that personal interaction at trade fairs is essential”.
The Secretary General of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT) also explains that “travel restrictions need to be removed and confidence has to be regained. There are still major markets, especially in the more distant regions, where there’s still a fear of travelling, so tour operators and travel organisers are not yet going all out”.
At the same time, “we need to recover air connectivity with secondary destinations and airports,” because “while air connectivity between major tourism destinations and big cities has now been restored, this accounts for only 50% of international tourism in our country”.
For Estalella, another major challenge for the sector in 2022 is the repayment of ICO loans which will begin in April. “To be able to meet the repayments and not ask for further extensions, we need to increase our capacity to generate cash, and to ensure this happens we need fiscal policy that isn’t too harsh. We mustn’t forget that, as far as foreign tourism is concerned, we’re still 75% below what we had in 2019”.
In short, the sector needs “a rebound in confidence, on the part of both consumers and public authorities, because the problem we have is not supply but demand, and the big challenge is to get it back to 2019 levels”.