Since the beginning of the pandemic, if there is one sector that has been particularly affected, it has been the service sector. Both in terms of employment and economic activity, the service sector is by its nature the most affected by a pandemic that has no precedent in our recent history. A service sector which is leading the falls, with the tourism sub-sector standing out among its subsectors, as we also know; a tourism sector which, by the way and in view of the reality offered by the data, is in a comatose state. What some call “the great confinement”, as well as all these measures of social distancing, which are obligatory in order to stop the virus and contain the pandemic, have forced the sector to dispense with revenues which, in the face of political inaction, the evolution of the pandemic and the losses foreseen by the employers, will not return.
To date, these losses, taking into account the loss to the sector of the decline in passengers over the past months and the summer season, amount to more than 40,000 million euros. These losses are unprecedented in terms of the historical series, leaving the tourism sector at a turning point; and it is worth highlighting the fact that, as a purely anecdote, it is curious that, according to the latest report presented by the Bank of Spain, of the 25% of companies in the country that are in a situation of technical bankruptcy, a large part of these are companies from this sector. Well, taking into account that we are talking about a decrease in activity which is already 65% with respect to last year, it is not surprising that this situation has finally occurred.
In this sense, according to the latest forecasts made by organizations and employers, such as Exceltur or the United Nations Organization, tourism is in a very complicated situation, as well as facing a real possibility of losing a large part of its productive capacity. Well, with such a level of losses and the estimates of reopening in a new normality and where tourism recovers, we are talking about a situation that, for the sector’s businessmen, will extend beyond the current financial year.
By the end of 2020, the losses recorded by the tourism sector, according to estimates made by the employers, could exceed 100 billion. Losses which, previously and not even in the worst-case scenario, we could have imagined. After the possibility of a new state of alert being implemented in the country, as well as all the vetoes imposed on the peninsular country, Spain, throughout Europe, it is even optimistic to forecast such a level of losses, bearing in mind that the employers’ organization already expects to continue to increase the expected losses as long as the pandemic continues to disable the recovery of the sector. All this, with the consequent deterioration of this situation for another series of variables such as, in this case, employment.
In this scenario, taking into account the forecasts made for employment in the tourism sector, we must stress that we are talking about a million jobs which are at risk in the face of such a situation. And this is because, although it has not been highlighted in the declarations made by the government, the tourism sector, despite being a sector which, as the Minister of Consumption said, does not have all the added value that others may have, supports nearly 15% of employment in the country; all of this, without taking into account that, in its breakdown, the country has autonomies in which this figure rises to over 40%. This, as shown by the employers, is very worrying; since we are talking about a loss of productive capacity in the sector, but also a loss of jobs which, taking into account that we are talking about a country that entered this crisis with 14% structural unemployment, cannot afford.
Furthermore, to get an idea of the importance of this sector on employment, we can look at the latest unemployment data presented by the SEPE. Unemployment data that supposed a recovery in employment of 47%. However, when this data was seasonally adjusted, eliminating the seasonal employment generated by sectors such as tourism, this recovery fell to 15%.
Such is the magnitude of the problem that, if we consider the impact caused by the pandemic on Spanish GDP at the end of the year, nearly 57% of the contraction that the Spanish economy is expected to register would be justified by the losses in the tourism sector. In the same way as with employment, we are talking about a sector which, directly, supports around 13% of the country’s gross domestic product. This, if we take into account the indirect contribution made by this sector, as well as all those auxiliary services which, indirectly, are added to the tourism sector, we would speak of a weight in the economy which would reach 25%. In this sense, a fifth part of the Spanish economy is currently dependent on this sector.
Thus, in conclusion, it is also worth highlighting the inaction of a government that continues to let the tourism sector fall, as well as all those entrepreneurs who depend on it. The vetoes continue to be extended to all countries, with Germany being the last to impose quarantine on travellers who choose Spain as their destination. However, the Government continues to focus on domestic tourism which, taking into account the latest data published by the Fundación Civismo, as well as the fact that nearly 90% of travellers in Spain already made their trips within the country, the aggregate of this boost to domestic tourism does not compensate, as already warned and not by a long shot, for the losses of foreign tourism which, in the light of the data, show the difficult recovery of a fundamental sector for our economy.