The keys to relaunching national tourism
The general secretary of the hotel confederation CEHAT, the president of travel agencies (CEAV), an expert from the consultancy EY, and the dean of the European University of the Canary Islands all propose their formulas.
Until international visitors return, experts are asking for special campaigns to relaunch national tourism, such as, for example the IMSERSO, but without age restrictions. They also point towards the need to create a Renewal Plan, along with discounts and grants that will reactivate the sector.
Ramón Estalella, general secretary of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourism Accommodation (CEHAT), explains that “special campaigns are needed, such as, for example, the IMSERSO (Institute for Seniors and Social Services), but without age restrictions, to encourage Spanish people to travel within our country”. And he pointed out the convenience of “a campaign where Spaniards spend money in our own country, and could then deduct it from their Income Tax, so that in the end the movement of the Spaniards themselves would generate taxes and social payments, and would get people out of the ERTEs (temporary furloughs)”.
Carlos Garrido de la Cierva, president of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV), believes that “we must create a Renewal Plan to reactivate tourism and to get people to travel again”. Thus, he explained that CEAV has requested the following measures: “application of the resident discount in the Balearic Islands, Canary Islands and Ceuta and Melilla to all Spanish citizens; application of the Vacation Program of the IMSERSO to travel for public of all ages; promotion activities with Turespaña (business directorate) promoting destinations and the advantages of booking through a travel agency; tourism collaboration project between autonomous communities, produced by the confederation for the travel agency associations; and a family vacation voucher, a subsidised cheque/voucher/credit to encourage Spanish families to enjoy their vacation in Spain”.
Xavier Trías, the partner in charge of the tourism sector with the consultancy EY, advises that the current problems that the sector is going through require a coordinated response from the three administrations, which is implemented in three areas. “Firstly, a package of measures that ensure the sector’s feasibility during the lockdown it is going through, as well as during the recovery process, especially if the rate of recovery is slower and in more stages than we would like. Secondly, a specific plan is needed for the sector that will promote its activity in the various stages of the easement and which would make safety compatible with companies’ activities. And, lastly, promote the advantages of our tourism offer compared to other worldwide destinations, which are summarised in three concepts: variety, quality and safety”.
More rural tourism activity
Cristiana Oliveira, expert in international tourism and dean of the European University of the Canary Islands, says that “in order for us to be able to recover the tourism industry worldwide, coordination mechanisms in matters of health, regulations and financial aid that will enable an improvement in the industry performance in the shortest time possible are essential”. “It is also important to take into account the lockdown-easement stages from the healthcare point of view, adaptation of the tourism offer, health protocols to be applied regionally, nationally and internationally and, lastly, confidence for a demand for travelling again”. In her opinion, “these measures would allow Spain to hold a position in the global setting and to compete for the outgoing tourism markets that will be the key to recovery in the medium to long-term”.
Experts agree in that when we are able to travel, we will do so with high levels of health and safety controls. Within this context, “the first recovery of the tourism sector will come from national tourism, as well as nature and rural tourism, which generate less crowds and will therefore be the first ones to reactivate”, pointed out Oliveira.