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The coronavirus pandemic has left behind a sunken economy in the region, as well as throughout Spain. Fear of the virus marks the vacation planning of millions of people this summer. The national tourism sector is facing a drop in activity of 83,134 million euros, according to The Alliance for Tourism Excellence (Exceltur).
Only in Andalusia "around 10 billion euros will be lost," says Juan Marín, vice president and tourism adviser to the Board. A fact that has devastated the good forecasts that had the first months of the year. "We went from an increase of more than 6% in January and February to zero."
He receives us through a video call from his office in the Junta de Andalucía. As of June 26, the region has 17,870 confirmed cases and 1,436 deaths from coronavirus, one of the lowest incidences of the virus in the entire country.
Perhaps that is why Andalusia has become a world leader in vacation bookings. "In inland tourism, reservations in July and August already exceed 60 and 70% occupancy."
And, although the sun and beach tourists are arriving later, currently in provinces like Malaga the occupation exceeds 50% , "last week it was 42". A growth that improves the forecasts that were had until now.
Investment and new budget for the sector
In addition to the security of the region without a large incidence of viruses and nature tourism away from the crowds, help from the Board has been essential to revive the sector. "The tourism budget is 87 million, and we have allocated 300 million at the moment, due to the importance it has."
Its activity in the region alone accounts for 13% of Andalusian GDP, 385,000 jobs a year and 29.5 million visitors who leave approximately 20.4 billion euros.
For this reason, a strategic plan was established to recover the pulse of the sector as soon as possible. This is what Juan Marín points out: "We measured two possible scenarios, one that set the recovery from June 15, and another, disastrous, with which we went to September-October."
Finally, the end of the alarm state and the reduction of Covid cases have allowed us to stick to the least bad option.
To endure until the arrival of these scenarios, the Andalusian Government has established a series of liquidity and shock measures "which welcomed more than 14,000 jobs", and have issued a hotel rating decree "with which to get an offer most competitive in Europe. "
In 14 days they already have several projects in the provinces of Almería, Malaga "where the first great luxury hotel in the capital has been inaugurated" or Cádiz.
To all this is added a greater investment in R & D & I and digitization through Andalucía lab. Specifically, the Secure Andalusia Seal and the Virtual Tourism Fair .
With this Seal, the establishments undertake to take all the sanitary measures against the coronavirus, which does not mean that they are free of it, each owner "enters with a simple click the registry of tourist activities in Andalusia. A QR code is issued there that They put in their establishment and that customers can scan to see if you comply or not with the established ", a very simple tool that " has not cost anything " to the public coffers.
As for the Virtual Fair, it is more aimed at travel agencies, "it is a very useful tool for bookings in July and August. It makes it easier to find tourists, and entrepreneurs can directly contact them "
After a welcome, the different destinations are presented on the website depending on whether you are looking for sun and beach, natural spaces or heritage. "There are all the tourist offers in the provinces. There are 175 companies with which to organize vacations."
In order to guarantee the total safety of Andalusian beaches, in addition to the Secure Andalusian Seal for beaches, the Ministry of Tourism asked the municipalities "for a contingency plan with grids for each square kilometer of beach that the Andalusian coastline has".
A study has been carried out with it to provide the 800 kilometers of cost with the material means necessary to ensure the protocols against COVID-19 established by the World Health Organization (WHO).
"We invest more than 10 million euros in zodiacs, turrets, walkways for the distance, signaling of the sectors ...", which strengthen prevention on beaches, accesses, and provide information to tourists.
And at the personal level, "we have incorporated more than 3,000 more people to the coasts to guarantee the capacity", which will lend their support to the authorities and beach workers.
In addition, campaigns to support the sector such as the one starring the Malaga actor Antonio Banderas have helped revitalize the sector. "It was he who proposed this initiative. He is an Andalusian with a huge heart. We are eternally grateful to him."
'No' to other decisions
Despite all the measures, there is still a significant concern about employment in the sector. " We transferred it to the government. It is necessary to put in place measures to reactivate travel."
They proposed to Madrid to lower the VAT on tourism for the remainder of the year so that prices are more affordable. "And we are not asking the government to take it on, because VAT and personal income tax are half our responsibility."
Nor have they agreed to expand ERTES nationwide until the recovery of the sector, so far only until September 30, nor the health passport .
"We bet on it because they were proposals that had been made in other European countries. And it only consists in that, before taking the flight, they do a quick test to find out if they are carriers of the virus. It protects those who come and those who go".
In his eyes, the government does not believe in the sector. "It contributes 12% of the national GDP and they allocate 4 billion euros to it. I think Garzón's words were what he thought of tourism."
And he adds: "In Andalusia we believe that it is essential to repair the economy. And we must bet on its recovery." In the end, "it is putting all the resources at your disposal," says Juan Marín.
"These measures are possible if we really want to protect health and that there are no more victims . And perhaps this is the reason why Andalusia is probably the world's leading tourist destination," he concludes.
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