After taking a little break from talking Tourism last week, I have to return to it this week. You may or may not know this but right now this island is in a mess. We’re now in the first week of June and despite us being out of permanent lockdown for 6 weeks I still don’t see a plan. On Monday we’re going to be in phase 3 and most big tourist industry businesses are still not open or are even planning to be open. Worrying numbers I’ve read this week are firstly that in the Balearics in May, unemployment rose 92% compared with May 2019. There were 35,792 more unemployed, and the percentage increase was the highest in the country. Also that just under a quarter of the islands hotels were planning to open in July. That’s 300 out of a total of 1300. My optimism of a couple of weeks ago has turned to pessimism because of the situation we’re in right now. We went into lockdown on March 14th and now 3 months later there is no clear plan going forward. What exactly have our Government been doing? I’m not having the well their hands have been tied by central Government excuse. I’ve told you before that whilst Spain’s GDP for Tourism is 12%, ours here is 44% and if you take in all other industries indirectly connected we’re talking 85%. So many businesses that rely on Tourism still aren’t open and are no clearer when they will be open because there’s no plan. Well that’s not true there is a sort of plan but right now it doesn’t make business sense to open. Look around the main tourist resorts and you won’t find anything open apart from family run businesses. It reminds me a little of the winter situation. The hotels won’t open because there’s no planes coming, the bars, restaurants and cafes won’t open as the hotels aren’t open so you end up back to square one.
I told you last week one of the biggest hold ups is the Social Security law that says if you take only 1 person off of the ERTE(furlough) you have to pay 45% of the social security for the rest of the staff you employ. That runs into thousands of euros a month for businesses employing a lot of workers. If they relaxed that law right now I guarantee you’ll see more businesses taking a punt on opening this month. I’ve spoken to bar owners, restaurants, hoteliers and excursion suppliers and they’re all saying the same thing. I’m no economist or politician but if I was, in the 3 months since we’ve been on lockdown my sole thoughts and efforts would be. These islands depend on tourism, how do I get the people off the ERTE, back into work, paying back into the system and also making sure that I’m not adding in any difficulties that would ultimately stop them doing so.
I repeat that’s been 3 months and still no one is any the wiser. There’s no winter season to fall back on here, we’ve flogged that campaign enough. So if we don’t get going soon how are businesses going to survive until next Easter?
The other problem is the ERTE(furlough) scheme. I’ve spoken to a few employment lawyers this past week and they all say there’s total confusion.
A report last week said that 30,000 people hadn’t been paid their ERTE money. The official service looking after this is called the SEPE and they weren’t prepared for what was coming. They’ve received 21,307 claims affecting around 150,000 workers in the Balearics and they can’t cope. So they employed lots of part-time people to relieve the strain, the problem is those people aren’t qualified in dealing with these problems so in actual fact the problems become greater.
Most big businesses will need 2-3 weeks in order to get open. I can give you first hand experience at Pirates and what we are waiting for.
The quarantine to be lifted in the UK.
Tour Operators and airlines to let us know predicted numbers they are flying in.
What hotels are open and where.
The ERTE social security payments before we open to be taken away.
What Aforo(capacity) we can open up to.
What other restrictions are going to be placed on us.
I know the Government can’t answer all of those but the last three would be helpful.
If we are coming out of phases at different times across the country then surely plans for tourism here could and should be fast tracked. Although all deaths are regrettable, there have been 226 fatalities across the Balearics which is 0.8% of the total deaths in Spain. Madrid and Catalunya account for 53% and are currently in phase 1 whilst we are in phase 2. They are asking to go to phase 2 on June 8th while we will be moving into phase 3 on the same date. With the final state of alarm now extended to June 21st, it won’t be until near the end of the month before flights start arriving. So for most businesses it’s going to be the middle of July before they’ll be ready to open. It’s a very difficult call with so much uncertainty as I imagine most businesses are looking to survive into 2021 and the wrong decision now could be very costly.
I’m doing my very best to be positive here but I feel we’re being let down badly.
Let’s leave you on a positive note. One of my favourite restaurants reopened on Wednesday. I can’t recommend Can Pedro in Genova enough and I’m looking forward to going again.
Take care everyone and enjoy your weekend!
Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday07.30-11http://www.radioonemallorca.com.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance!
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