prudent de-escalation looking out of Spain

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Deserted beaches, closed shops and avenues with just a few silhouettes. The appearance of tourist cities such as Benidorm in recent months has been marked by mobility restrictions, which have led the Valencian Community to be the region with the lowest incidence in Spain but also the one that destroys the most jobs (40,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2020).

The president of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, announced this Monday that on May 9 he would not resort to any instrument to try to extend the perimeter closure of autonomy, that has been active since October and that depends on the state of alarm.

Yes, there will be other limitations yet to be specified, such as the curfew, although for them to remain active the Superior Court of Justice will have to rule (TSJ) of the Valencian Community.

This decision has been enthusiastically welcomed by Valencian hoteliers, who had doubts that the region would reopen without further ado due to the firmness that Puig has shown until now to maintain its restrictions.

Cities like Benidorm and its more than 120 hotels currently have a quarter of the establishments open. The Hosbec employer association, the largest in the Valencian Community, estimates that the pace of openings will accelerate in the coming weeks and the idea is to “reach 50%” in the month of June.

Benidorm hotel closed, in archive image.

Why prudence? For the international market. The sources consulted indicate that the national market is not enough to have a “normal summer”, as happened in 2020, and that for a “partial recovery” the behavior of the United Kingdom is essential, which continues to be mired by uncertainty in its de-escalation plan.

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In fact, companies such as Jet2 or TUI have already canceled all their flights to Spain until the end of June, so the tourism sector he practically gives up that month for lost.

The Valencian Community has been one of the hardest hit by mobility restrictions. INE data indicate that the drop in foreign tourism in 2020 caused losses of 7.2 billion euros in tourism spending. That year the region received 2.5 million tourists from other countries, 73.3% less.

In this sense, businessmen count on the implementation of a Covid passport supplying an oxygen balloon for the industry, but they don’t trust the European bureaucracy or its deadlines.

Recovery in V

One of the keys that the Valencian tourism sector manages is that its recovery will be in V to the extent that the restrictions disappear. When Boris Johnson announced that he would allow travel from May 17, reservations from the United Kingdom to the Valencian Community they multiplied by five.

All of that faded just a week later, when an adviser to the prime minister said in an interview on the BBC that his compatriots could not travel in summer. The British government has since avoided specifying its plans to resume international travel.

The international market is the most important for the Valencian sun and beach, but it does not stop representing half of the total. Where the end of the perimeter closure will mean positive news is in the second home market, most of it in the hands of Spaniards and, particularly, Madrid.

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According to 2019 data from the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, the Valencian Community has 1.2 million residences for secondary use, the highest figure in all of Spain, even above Andalusia.

In fact, in the last year without a pandemic Alicante led the sales statistics, with 5,869 housing transactions, followed by Malaga (5,051) and Valencia (3,781). Madrid residents were the buyers in 41% of the operations in Alicante province and in 52% of those in Valencia.

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