There are companies in the Balearic Islands that have been inactive since October 2019, fourteen months without making cash. Gabriel Escarrer warned this week in Diario de Mallorca. The archipelago is the autonomous community “hardest hit” by the crisis, an economy that “cannot afford to spend more than two years without activity or income.”
In the hotel factory that is the Balearic Islands, 13,000 million in tourist spending and 12 million travelers have been lost after a summer that started late and at half gas and was cut short in mid-August due to the cascade of restrictions on mobility in the issuing markets when they included the islands on their blacklist.
Without international tourism – only 1.7 million arrived last year – the archipelago is dead, the queues of hunger are growing, despite the protection of the temporary employment regulation files (ERTE). Spanish GDP has fallen by 11%, that of the Balearic community by 25.4%. Some of these ERTE are already leading to ERE in tourist distribution companies.
“We are on our way to another year similar to 2021,” says a hotelier, in light of the soaring situation of infections, the slowness of the vaccination campaign and the restrictions. “The demand is very low, there are sales, as of June. You can’t compare it to 2019 because it’s hateful, “he acknowledges. He insists: “We are like in 2020.”
If another summer with “very low” demand is repeated, there would be no choice but to extend the ERTE until December. Otherwise, “many companies would have to apply ERE via pre-contest due to the inability to pay payroll”. “The Government is not interested in this happening,” understands this businessman.
Llobera, optimistic by nature, appreciates that “demand seems to be going to see, that is why we need to lower the incidence of covid below 50 cases per 100,000 cases per inhabitant to guarantee the issuing markets.”
“We cannot throw in the towel, we have to demand herd immunity”
Need to breathe
This same week, the hoteliers of Platja de Palma have asked to be able to buy vaccines for their staff, as is intended to be done in Cancun. José Antonio Fernández de Alarcón, vice president of the association in the area, declares himself in favor of the fact that destiny has to “try” again to fly as it did last year, without wanting to imagine what “the debacle that hoteliers cannot breathe until March 2022 ».
“The epidemiological situation and the vaccination deadlines will continue to condition” the 2021 season – says Arturo Ortiz, Turespaña adviser in Berlin – the virus is not going to go away. From a “not too optimistic” point of view, Ortiz believes in the “first or second week of August” in the Balearic Islands there will be destinations “with considerable occupancy, between 35 and 45%”, taking into account that last year it was around 30% and “started from scratch.” What will happen next summer “is more tied than in 2020, when we did not know what was going to be the next thing that could happen,” he adds.
After last year in August “everything was folded, I think that next summer we will handle the situation better,” says another hotelier. In his opinion, “if we reach 30 or 40% of the occupation in 2019 we can find ourselves with a song in the teeth.” All that can be planned a little over three months after the start of the season, if the virus allows it, is “with the expectation of losing less than with hotels closed and some establishments opening.”
“What will happen in summer is more tied than in 2020, it will reach 35-45% occupancy”
Next tourist corridor
The urgent thing is to achieve “the psychological decontamination of the fear of traveling and being in concentrations”, considers another businessman. “To what extent will there be reliability for people to travel,” Llobera wonders. The example to follow are the tourist corridors that were tested last year. That test “we passed it and now we are working to open not a few hotels, but all,” the hotel leader advances. “We will announce it shortly.”
With the horizon, once again, of last-minute reservations that will mark the opening decisions of the summer, Tolo Deyà, Vice-dean of Tourism of the UIB, points to the hope of the sector: that the season that will start late will last until November , “If all the conditions are met and the weather accompanies”.
“The hope of the sector is that the season will last until November”
Turespaña in Berlin «Holidays in Germany are not an alternative for most, they are expensive and without sun and beaches»
The Germans are going through a very harsh winter, their unpleasant climate is compounded by weeks with everything closed, except supermarkets and pharmacies. The message that the Merkel Government sends them, forgetting to make reservations for the summer and thinking about spending the holidays without leaving Germany – the same one that Boris Johnson repeats to the British -, “is not an alternative for the majority,” says Arturo Ortiz, adviser in Berlin of Turespaña, the agency of the Ministry of tourism promotion abroad. Holidays in Germany are more expensive and do not convince tourists that what they want is “sun in the Mediterranean or in the Canary Islands. Before they would stay at home. Ortiz appeals that the German authorities “will not be able to maintain that message until the summer, if there is not another wave of covid.”
Hoteliers acknowledge that if such a situation occurred it would be “lethal” for the islands. The Germans are “more squared”, but the British look at the good rate of vaccines they carry “, says Jaume Horrach, second vice president of the FEHM. Plans in Germany are for the general population to be vaccinated at the end of September. The “ethical debate on whether those inoculated can have more privileges to travel” has been opened over those who cannot, or whether it is just a question of “recovering a lost right,” says Ortiz.