Published on : Monday, March 30, 2020
Portugal also witnesses a rapid decline in travel and tourism economy. Francisco Calheiros, head of Portugal’s Tourism Confederation said that the people are being told to stay at home, which means the sector has ground to a halt. At stake is billions of euros in revenue and millions of jobs.
For many of tourists in Portugal, the summer season is their only shot each year to work consistently for several months at a time. Economists expect a jump in Spain’s already-high unemployment rate. The magnitude of the increase will depend in large part on when tourists are able to return.
Before the spread of the coronavirus intensified during the past two weeks, tourism companies were hopeful that activity would get somewhat back to normal for the all-important Easter break in April. Since then, airports in Spain, Italy and elsewhere have shuttered most of their terminals, and airlines have grounded the bulk of their fleets.
Ryanair Holdings Plc, which brings millions of visitors to Spain and Italy each year, doesn’t expect to operate flights during April and May.
Without airlines supplying customers, hotels have little opportunity to fill beds, and some operators are considering closing for the rest of the year, according to Carlos Cendra of Spanish travel analytics firm Mabrian Technologies.
The outlook has been further clouded by events in the U.K., a key source of travellers to southern Europe.
Its containment came later than in other European countries, which could mean the peak of the pandemic there is still weeks away, keeping Brits at home for longer.
Beyond the immediate concerns about the coming travel season, the virus could spell structural changes for the industry. Travelers may be less willing to take part in mass gatherings like conventions, fairs, and even soccer games.
Lorenza Bonaccorsi said that they need to understand how a series of distortions with respect to mass tourism and over-tourism could be fixed. The tourism executives and analysts say that many people — particularly older travelers — are likely to remain cautious about venturing abroad. Also, cash-strapped airlines may re-introduce services only gradually to slowly repair their damaged balance sheets.
Jose Luis Zoreda, executive vice president at Exceltur, a lobby group for Spain’s tourism industry said that when all the bars, all the restaurants, all the stores, all the museums are closed — when there’s not even a single soccer game being played, what tourist activity can there be? Zero. They went from business as usual in February to no business at the end of March.