The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the need to modernise the world’s tourism model, a task that requires the commitment of all the actors involved and of the countries that lead this sector on a global level, including Spain.
These are the main conclusions of the first day of the tenth edition of the Shopping & Quality Tourism Summit Spain, which began yesterday in Madrid in virtual format and which revolves around two thematic blocks: the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and tourism in Spain in the period 2020-2021.
“Everyone in this forum agrees that our tourism model will be more digital and sustainable, but the pandemic has also taught us that we need a model that is more resilient to future global crises”, said the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Reyes Maroto, during the opening of the meeting.
“One of the strengths of our tourism model is its high level of international connectivity”, but “the measures adopted by many countries to control the pandemic, with travel restrictions or quarantines, have led to a great deal of mistrust in travel and little mobility, generating a very negative impact on the majority of our holiday destinations”, she continued.
For this reason, “from the government we are working both at a European and international level to generate homogeneous travel protocols in all countries that allow the opening of tourist corridors”. “In Spain we already have protocols for the Canary and Balearic Islands and we are working to extend them to destinations on the peninsula”, explained Maroto.
“In addition, the European Commission has just approved recommendations to ensure that Europe is once again a safe travel destination, good news that we hope will gradually restore international mobility” and that will be a “very useful instrument while we live with the pandemic” and to “be better prepared for future pandemics”, added the minister.
“Likewise, thinking about the future, we have to continue working to increase connectivity, mainly with Asian markets, which have a high potential for growth and tourism flows”, added Maroto, who also explained her department’s plans to promote digitisation and the adoption of new technologies in the sector through “a Tourism Digitalisation Tractor Project within the framework of the Spain Digital Agenda 2025”, and to develop “so-called intelligent tourism” through “a new Tourism Intelligence Observatory”.
“Tourism is the livelihood of 120 million people”
For his part, Manuel Butler, Executive Director of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), warned that “if the crisis has taught us anything, after more than half a year, it is the need for cooperation between nations, between the public and the private sector and between all actors” because “global problems can only be solved with global responses”.
“The UNWTO estimates that we will not recover the pre-crisis levels before two and a half to four years”, he continued. This situation affects “the financial situation of families and businesses” because “tourism is the livelihood of more than 120 million people”, and, because of the pandemic crisis, “more than 120 million jobs are at risk this year alone”, he said.
“This is a tumultuous time of profound change but also of great opportunity to build a better, more resilient, more inclusive tourism that leaves no one behind and is more sustainable”, Butler continued. “Today’s decisions will mark the course of the next few decades” and it is therefore necessary to “build a new tourism model with the special support of the leading countries, and Spain is one of them”, he added.
The President of the Summit’s Organising Committee, Jordi Hereu – former Mayor of Barcelona – also stated at the opening that “we need absolute support for the recovery of the perception of Spain at an international level”, a task in which “the administrations and the private sector” must be involved in a coordinated manner. Furthermore, “there must be safe corridors for travellers to recover their confidence and clear health measures”, he said.