• Crisis. The engine room of the Valencian economy lost more than 11,000 million in 2020. It already considers that Holy Week is ruined, and it hopes that the vaccine passport will not b held up and will save the summer.
  • Disaster. This is the word that Valencian hotel and hospitality organisations frequently use to define 2020. They say that they have now given up any hopes of meaningful activity over Easter and they pray that bureaucratic obstacles and the delay in vaccinations will not hinder the implementation of the Covid passport that is now being promoted by the EU.

The nervous re-opening of borders after the first wave of coronavirus, following the Prime Minister’s triumphant announcement, “we have beaten the virus” on June 10, was nothing more than a summer hallucination that, by the end of the year had done untold damage, resulting in losses “of more than 11,000 million euros” to the Valencian tourism sector.

Of course, Tourism is far more than simply the arrival of travellers, whether of national or foreign origin, to hotels, apartments or to rural houses and inns. It is a sector that involves spending on transport, whether in car rental or taxi services, in gift and souvenir shops. It is a sector that draws on Valencian gastronomy, hospitality, food producers, tourist guides, travel agencies and much more.

According to Luis Martí, the Head of the Confederation of Tourism Employers of the Valencian Community, “The year 2020 has been the worst in the history of tourism. All the parameters have fallen, price, occupation, tourists … It is as if we had gone back 25 years.”

Last summer, despite the re-opening of many hotels, fear and uncertainty marked the peak season. In 2019 3.4 million foreign visitors arrived in Valencia. In 2020 the figures were just 800.000, more than four times fewer.

383,000 arrived in the Community in July, 430,000 in August and 185,000 in September. The fall was also a disaster for airports, 76.8% fewer passengers, according to the Turisme Comunitat Valenciana data: 78.3% at Alicante-Elche, and 72.7% in Valencia. Likewise, arrivals by road fell by 58.2%, to 745,800.

Empty hotels in Benidorm.
Empty hotels in Benidorm.

The tourist sector now considers that Holy Week and the Easter holidays are lost. Although the situation of the pandemic has improved, the president of the Generalitat has said that he intends the perimeter closure of the Valencian Community remains in place, which will prevent the arrival of any tourists. The fear of how the new strains of Covid can act is the reason why he seeks to keep autonomy isolated, although the British and South African strains have already been around for weeks.

As for the future! It involves guaranteeing mobility and promotion of the vaccination passport by the EU. But many tourism entrepreneurs fear that the shortage of doses in Europe is bound to have an effect and that bureaucratic procedures may well delay the implementation of this safe code of travel.

Toni Mayor from the Confederation of Tourism Entrepreneurs puts his trust in the forthcoming season.  He says that he will be satisfied if the summer season can be saved.

Luis Martí, though, says “2021 has started very badly. We now all put our hope in the beginning of the summer and a massive vaccination program. Even so, the year will not be good, for sure. Recovery will not come until 2022.”