Ahead of the Exceltur Forum on tourism to be held on 18 January, José Luis Zoreda, Executive Vice-President of Exceltur, and Oscar Perelli, Director of Studies and Research, held a press conference in which they took stock of 2021 and presented the forecasts for this year. They also discussed the Next Generation European funds.
The executive vice president began by noting that 2021 saw a "hopeful and intermittent" recovery until December, when the Omicron variant began to spread and forced governments to impose strict restrictions again. Despite the sixth wave, 2021 presented favourable figures. The share of tourism in national GDP reached 7.4% compared to 5.5% in 2020. In addition, employment rose by 20 points, which means, according to Zoreda, "the employers' commitment to incorporate workers and return to normality".
On the other hand, in 2021 the desire to travel was consolidated, which is reflected in the high Spanish demand. On the other hand, foreign demand has fallen with 60% less income, in total 29,000 million euros. In total, Spain received 31 million foreign tourists, a far cry from the 80 million in 2019. In this sense, travel agencies, airlines and urban hotels were the most affected by the fall in tourists during the year, while online travel agencies, car rental companies and holiday hotels were able to cope better with the restrictions.
As for 2022, a recovery is expected from the second quarter of the year, i.e. from the Easter holidays onwards. According to surveys, the tourism GDP in 2022 could reach 135,461 million euros, i.e. the sector would represent 10.5% of the Spanish economy by the end of the year. However, despite the positive data, 63.8% of entrepreneurs who participated in the Exceltur Business Confidence Survey do not anticipate recovering their 2019 sales until 2023, compared to 36.2% who think that it will be achieved this year.
Zoreda also pointed out that these figures do not accurately reflect the disparity that exists by sectors and neighbourhoods, as the evolution will be different for those that depend on Spanish demand, "strong in 2022", or on foreign demand. For this reason, some entrepreneurs delay expectations for the full recovery of the sector until 2023 and others (13 %) to the beginning of 2024.
After assessing the results of 2021 and presenting the expectations for this year, Zoreda and Perelli addressed some aspects of the European Next Generation funds. Zoreda advocates a distribution of European funds for projects that promote greater competitive transformation. In this context, the vice president of Exceltur has asked, as they have been requesting for more than a year to the Government, must have a specific PERTE (recovery plan), reserving in the next allocations of Next Generation funds 2022 and 2023 an amount "for the comprehensive and competitive renovation of pioneering coastal destinations that have the greatest competitive challenges".
He also stressed the need to extend the ERTE (Temporary Employment Regulation Record) until the end of the year. Pirelli agreed to maintain the ERTE and aid because, although the scenario is positive, it is still far from the situation prior to the pandemic. "If work has been maintained, it has been thanks to the ERTE," he said.
Finally, the executive vice-president referred to the Exceltur Forum, which will be held next week. The event will address new challenges for tourism after the pandemic, such as the ecological transition, tourism policy and labour policy. The meeting will be attended by three ministers, three regional presidents, the leader of the opposition, the president of the Dominican Republic and executives from leading companies. "Tourism cannot be the object of political confrontation; on the contrary, it must be the object of state policy," concluded Zoreda.