COVID-19: IMPACT ON TOURISM IN MADRID AND BARCELONA IS ENORMOUS

Andrew J. Wein - Jun 29, 2020
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The coronavirus crisis has affected Madrid and Catalonia more than the rest of Spain, forcing nationals to choose destinations such as Andalusia, Asturias, or Galicia for their holidays. The impact on tourism in Catalonia is substantial.

According to the Spanish tourism association Exceltur, due to the pandemic, the tourism revenues decreased by EUR 43,460 million compared to the same period last year.

The Loving Tourism Report 2020 confirms that 40% of Spanish nationals intend to travel this summer, and up to 67% say that they’ll travel two to three times during the remainder of the year.

This second study carried out by CastroConsulting Marketing & Strategy, during the solidarity initiative LovingTourism to support domestic tourism, was presented last week.

In this study, the Travel Intent of Tourists Living in Spain during the De-escalation Phase Report analyzes the results from 6,936 respondents living in Spain and aged over 18. The report was carried out during the May 11 to May 24 period of the de-escalation phase.

Major Drop of Tourists

Without a doubt, the health crisis caused by coronavirus pandemic is having a great impact on tourism demand. On the one hand, the decrease in international tourists due to the closing of borders and fewer flights between certain countries, and on the other, the reduction of internal demand, which according to the report carried out in this study may be between 21% (who won’t go on holidays this year) and 59% (if indecisive locals also opt not to travel).

One of the good news from this study is that for about half of the survey respondents during the de-escalation phase, the health crisis has not stopped them from working (48.3%). Additionally, 16.5% and 9% have not been affected either due to their status (retirees, students...), or because they were already unemployed before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 25% say that the health crisis has had a clear negative impact on their lives, leading to ERTEs (temporary employment and regulation files), work cessation, or simply furlough.

In the Canary and Balearic Islands, jobs have been compromised more than in the rest of the country, with 33% and 30.9% filing for ERTEs, work cessation or without job. On the other hand, it has been confirmed that women and young people lead in job losses caused by the health crisis.

De-seasoned Demand

Besides the loss of domestic tourism demand, there will also be changes in the behavior of tourists living in Spain who finally enjoy a holiday this year. It is expected that more progress will be made towards deseasonalization (seasonal adjustment).

While August will continue to be the best month (57.5%), July (40.3%) and September (38.5%) will also be crucial for tourism. Additionally, the COVID-19 impact on tourism is clear in the low number of citizens (7.7%) who say that they will travel in June, remaining well below the rest of the months of 2020.

So far, the positive side of the pandemic has been its deseasonalizing effect, with 76% saying that they will travel in the period from September to December.

The intention to travel outside the high season is evident in those who weren’t active before the pandemic, mostly people living in the Valencian Community, Cantabria, Castilla La Mancha, and both Canary and Balearic Islands. According to the survey, the older the tourist, the higher the possibility of postponing the holidays during September and October, which is particularly noticeable in those without a job, traveling alone or as a couple; and the younger they are, the greater possibility of traveling in August or December.

In-Car and in Hotel

The automobile will be the main means of transport, although the use of public transport is gradually recovering as well.

Hotels will continue to be the preferred accommodation, seeing performance levels close to before the pandemic, but tourists also show a newly found interest in other types of accommodation, such as apartments, tourist accommodations, rural accommodations and second homes.

It should also be noted that 79% of travelers would stay in a hotel that previously welcomed coronavirus patients, provided it has been disinfected. However, 21% say that they will avoid them altogether (mostly young people and families).

Likewise, travelers believe it’s essential to disinfect rooms (62%), the mandatory use of face masks by employees (47%) and the use of hand sanitizer both in bathrooms (51.7%) and in reception (51.3%).

On the other hand, travelers consider it important to reduce the capacity of restaurants by half and control the temperature at reception (45%), while 40% want rapid tests to be carried out upon arrival at the hotel.

Staying in Spain in 2020

In 2020, trips within the country (84%) will prevail over the international ones. The sun-and-beach destinations are still the favorite options (62.8%), although natural attractions are also in high demand (51.2%).

However, in the current de-escalation phase, the intention to visit a larger variety of destinations is more prominent than in the two previous phases. In general terms, rural tourism and hiking continue to grow versus urban tourism, although the latter shows a certain recovery compared to its numbers during the lockdown phase.

International destinations are less and less appealing, going from 50.2% to the current 16.2%. Of the Spanish people interviewed, 81.4% will spend the summer in a different autonomous community mostly in Andalusia, Galicia and Asturias, followed by the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands. Urban areas, such as Madrid and Catalonia, are the most affected ones by the coronavirus pandemic, with the intention to travel to these destinations down to 5%.

Rural destinations, as well as hiking, are mostly chosen by young travelers, although with less budget for the trip. In fact, those aiming for sun-and-beach destinations or urban places have more money to spend.

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