Published on : Monday, March 30, 2020
The hotels in Spain are deeply affected due to ongoing coronavirus scare. The only guests at three of his six boutique hotels in Madrid are doctors and nurses fighting the deadly coronavirus disease. The transformation of Sarasola’s Room Mate Laura hotel and dozens of others into lodging for hospital staff reflects how the crisis has overwhelmed the health-care sector and also brought the tourism industry to a halt.
The sudden standstill is particularly notable in Spain and Italy, the epicenters of the outbreak in Europe, with more than 160,000 cases and 16,000 deaths. Millions of visitors travel to both countries each year, fueling economic growth. Now, the lockdowns mean nearly all hotels are closed. As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, there’s little prospect for an easing of restrictions on all but essential travel anytime soon.
The doctors and nurses have “arrived crying and exhausted,” said Sarasola, president of Room Mate, a chain of three dozens hotels around the world. “Nobody thought we were going to get these levels of sickness and death so quickly. It’s mind boggling.”
He and other hoteliers in Spain and Italy have donated empty rooms to health-care workers. In Madrid, some are isolating themselves from loved ones because they are concerned about contagion, and others were brought in from elsewhere to help in the city, where there have been the most deaths in Spain.
Sarasola supports the strict lockdown to stop the virus, and is counting on a rapid rebound after restrictions lift, when he thinks cooped up consumers will seek out sunny beaches to recover.
Bernabo Bocca, president of lodging association Federalberghi said that for Italian hotels, it will be a summer of domestic tourism, which however is worth less than 50% of the total and will be weaker than usual, since Italians will have less money.