‘Covid-19 free’ certifications planned by tourism agency

Catalan tourism board director believes association with Spain is damaging for handling of coronavirus crisis

An empty terrace at Platja d'Aro in the Costa Brava region, north Catalonia (by Marina López)
An empty terrace at Platja d'Aro in the Costa Brava region, north Catalonia (by Marina López) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

April 16, 2020 06:14 PM

The Catalan Tourism Agency is working on creating certificates that distinguish "covid-19 free" establishments

Its director, David Font, has stated that it should be an "easy and fast mechanism" for businesses in the tourism sector to help "regain visitor confidence." 

The director of the tourism board believes that the overseas public associates destinations in Catalonia with “the Spanish market" and that hurts business in Catalonia because the brand "is touched by the management of the health crisis." 

On the other hand, the dean of the Faculty of Economics of the UdG, Anna Garriga, believes that if the closure of establishments lasts until August, the Girona area could see losses of up to 70%.

Turning the Costa Brava into a safe area is one of the biggest challenges facing the tourism sector this season, aiming to recover visitors as soon as lockdown restrictions can be lifted. 

The Catalan Tourism Agency is examining how to "certify those establishments that have applied health checks" to ensure that no coronavirus infection occurs.

Plans to boost tourism sector

Catalan president Quim Torra met with tourism bodies on Friday to discuss the impact of coronavirus on the sector, in which there is growing worry of the impact of the crisis.

"The executive is aware that tourist activity is stopped and is studying measures to ensure the viability of a sector that represents 12% of GDP and 13% of employment," government spokesperson Meritxell Budó said in a press conference following the meeting. 

The president of the body representing Catalonia's small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism industry, Isabel Galobardes, proposed to the government "to analyze well" the measures Italy is considering for its tourism sector, where bonds and tax credits may be introduced to give such businesses a boost.

Elsewhere, the Catalan Federation of Tourist Apartments (Federatur) were satisfied that the meeting went "very positively", adding the government "is working" to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus crisis. 

However, the president of the association, David Riba, warned of the "sharp fall in income" leading to job losses and businesses closing permanently.

“If we don’t receive any benefits from the authorities, this will translate into a lot more unemployment and the closure of companies,” Riba said.

Flights carrying healthcare material

Forty flights have flown in and out of Barcelona airport carrying healthcare material and humanitarian supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic since March, according to data released by the Spanish aviation authority on Thursday. 

In addition, in early April, a flight from Germany arrived at Girona airport which provided the material for Seat to fabricate the Oxygen ventilators, assisting in the healthcare emergency. 

In total, in March, Barcelona airport operated six cargo flights: four from China, one from Uzbekistan, and another from Qatar. In April, there were 31 flights to Barcelona and 1 to Girona, most from China, but also some from Russia, Qatar, Germany and Uzbekistan.