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‘Catastrophe’ as tourism sector loses Easter and worries for summer season

Studies estimate losses of up to six million international tourists and €60 billion


27 March 2020 12:34 PM


ACN | Barcelona

The tourism sector of Catalonia is already resigned to losing the Easter season. The president of the Hospitality Federation of the Girona region has called it a "catastrophe," while his counterpart in the Barcelona Camping Association describes the situation as "chaotic and desperate." 

The future of the sector is not very encouraging either, with worries looming over the summer season. Studies estimate a loss of 2.7 million international tourists if the effects of coronavirus do not stop before Easter, a figure which could reach six million if it carries on to the summer. 

In economic terms, tourism could see losses of up to €60 billion if the crisis lasts six months. Labour in the sector will also experience a hit, with the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) expecting up to 50 million lost jobs globally.

In this sense, PIMEC Turisme, the association that represents small-medium sized enterprises in the tourism sector, laments the "lack of foresight" in decision-making that has led to temporary layoffs of staff.

According to employers, 90% of the small and medium-sized businesses in hospitality and catering have experienced a reduction in sales or cancellations of reservations. Added to this, 82.5% are contemplating submitting ERTE, temporary redundancies, to their workforces.

Once the crisis passes, the first area of tourism likely to recover will be visitors from Spain, for solidarity with the “local community." The return of international tourists will be closely related to the countries of origin, and how the virus affected those countries. 

According to academic studies conducted after the SARS outbreak, countries where the disease had virtually no effect were very "reluctant" to travel to countries that did feel its consequences.

In the case of Spain, Pablo Díaz Luque, a professor at Open University of Barcelona’s Department of Economics and Business Studies, expects Italians to be "the most likely" international tourists to visit soon. 

For this reason, the professor emphasized the importance of "encouraging and supporting" small and medium-sized businesses in the sector. He also calls for lowering taxes in the sector and promoting campaigns in other countries to attract visitors.


  • A public square with closed bars in the Costa Brava town of Llafranc (by Aleix Freixas)

  • A public square with closed bars in the Costa Brava town of Llafranc (by Aleix Freixas)