Tourists in the Plaza de España in Seville on September 3.PACO PUENTES / EL PAÍS
Communities and the tourism industry have come together this year to extend the season as much as possible. The objective is to continue attracting travelers until, at least, the month of November to overcome the losses that the pandemic has caused for the sector. Catalonia, Andalusia, the Canary Islands, the Valencian Community or the Balearic Islands have turned to the search for more tourists through vouchers, international campaigns or sporting and cultural events. With that extra time in autumn, administrations and companies seek to compensate for the gap left by foreign tourism, which in July was 55.5% lower than the levels prior to the pandemic.
Andalusia. The community has become the main destination in Spain this summer, accounting for 45% of the national demand and with occupations higher than 80% in August. The figures, in some cases above the best expectations, make the regional government and cities such as Seville, Granada or Córdoba think that the inertia of the summer months will be consolidated in October. The Andalusian community has planned campaigns until Christmas.
Seville, after two consecutive years without Easter and Fair —which represent 17% of its GDP—, faces the arrival of autumn with hope. “In addition to the thermometer that is the strong pull in national demand for sun and beach tourism, we are optimistic about the recovery of international flights and the revitalization of large congresses starting in autumn,” says Antonio Muñoz, delegate of the area of Urban Habitat, Culture and Tourism of Seville. The city will hold large face-to-face events, such as the first meeting of tourist destinations in Spain or the second edition of the World Tourism Congress. The sector, however, is cautious and remembers that the turnover of the summer does not give to compensate the accumulated losses of more than 70% of the past season.
Catalonia. The irruption of the fifth wave of covid-19 led the Generalitat to consider how to make the most of the summer. “It was recommended not to travel to Catalonia, and we made a crisis cabinet in which we approved an extraordinary amount of 500,000 euros for promotion abroad and another 100,000 for an advertising campaign aimed at the domestic market”, explains the general director of Tourism, Marta Domènech. Given the air restrictions with some countries, the tourist was especially chosen senior from France, Holland, Germany or Belgium who go by car to the campsites. According to Domènech, “there are signs that there is interest in continuing to come in autumn.”
Extending the season will not be easy in family destinations that depend on school holidays, such as the Costa Daurada and the Costa Brava. “But we have to take action again to try to de-seasonalize, now that everyone is beginning to assume that the covid is part of our lives,” says Berta Cabré, president of the Tarragona Federation of Hospitality Companies. In this demarcation they perceive an increase in reservations of campers for the coming weeks and are promoting tourism linked to sporting events and the celebration of Halloween.
In the city of Barcelona, occupancy has been around 50% in open hotels (43% are still closed). Xavier Mercé, Councilor for Tourism, highlights that the promotion has to happen “to make the most of the cultural agenda that begins now and create a bridge between summer and Christmas.”
Tourists on the beach of Peguera, in the Majorcan municipality of Calvià, last July. CATI CLADERA / EFE
Balearics. The islands have focused their efforts for years on the task of seasonally adjusting the tourism sector. This year that work has intensified. “All efforts are aimed at extending the season,” says the Minister of Tourism, Iago Negueruela. Starting in September, the revenue from the call for international advertising campaigns with airlines will be seen, in which 2.5 million have been invested, to guarantee connectivity between the islands and foreign destinations. Another will be added to it for the same amount, about to close, to tie the connection with mainland cities beyond November. “These two calls will make it possible to guarantee connectivity, which is essential to keep the hotel plant open. We must work in October and November to guarantee more contributions to permanent discontinuous workers on our islands ”, says Negueruela, who is committed to boosting congress, sports and cultural tourism, for which he predicts that it will be“ a good autumn ”.
Valencian Community. Entrepreneurs in the region seek to extend the current season as much as possible to compensate for the first five months of the year, with very low occupancy. Toni Mayor, president of the Hosbec hotel association —which brings together 80,000 beds— acknowledges that the behavior of the market in the next four months is unknown. The association is still very aware of whether Spain continues or leaves the amber list of the United Kingdom, the great tourist issuing market of Benidorm, and trusts to encourage the next months in the travel voucher that the Valencian Government has arranged for 2020-2021 , with 16 million investment, for weekend getaways for Valencians and which will be activated again on September 15. They also trust, although to a lesser extent, Imserso trips and other tourism packages senior. But the great bet of the Generalitat goes through the 13,000 new vouchers that it will take out for the last four months, with which it covers up to 70% of the tourist services contracted by Valencians (with a maximum of 600 euros).
Luis Martí, leader of the Confederation of Tourism Entrepreneurs of the Valencian Community, with representation of 40,000 hotel and hospitality places, agrees that the travel voucher has greatly stimulated national demand and they trust the prolongation of the campaign to promotional actions, which They already negotiate with public entities to attract business and cultural visitors. “We have had good occupations in summer, but the first five months of the year have been a ruin, so we will try to extend the season as long as possible,” explains Martí. On an international scale, they seek promotional actions in markets such as Italian, French or the Netherlands.
Information prepared by Eva Sáiz, Josep Catà, Lucía Bohórquez and Cristina Vázquez.