The tourism sector lives its star week with the celebration of Fitur. In addition, today the tourist lobby Exceltur celebrates its forum that will include directors of companies in the sector as well as leaders of the Government and the opposition. A day that will deal above all with the transforming challenges that tourism has, without forgetting that there are many companies that need more aid to survive as a result of the pandemic. The Executive Vice President of Exceltur, José Luis Zoreda, speaks with ABC and stresses the need to take advantage of European funds to «reformulate the Spanish tourist offer and meet some challenges, especially regenerating mature sun and beach destinations. We have an opportunity with European funds, and it would be a shame to lose it.”
Last week you denounced that aid from Spain was meager and that European funds are not being managed correctly, could you specify what the situation is?
To give an example, the aid received by Riu in a hotel in Germany exceeds that received by all its hotels in Spain. The aid from Spain is not in line with what tourism represents within the Spanish economy, nor with the seriousness of the problem in the last two years. The 3,400 million are not small change, it is true that it is the largest amount received, but they are insufficient. If now it seems that we are going to request 70,000 on credit, 12.4% -what the sector represented in GDP in 2019- on 140,000 million would be 17,000 million euros. 3,400 million are insufficient for the challenges facing the sector. In addition, when distributing the first batch of 615 million, it is done by territorial distribution. This is not about distributing among more than a hundred little projects. Ibiza receives two million euros for the island. That amount is not enough to start with. The money has been awarded to 150 projects, and many of them do not have transformative capacity.
They ask for a Perte for the sector for sun and beach destinations, what is the situation of these destinations?
Many of them have obsolescence problems because they were built in the sixties and seventies. What had to be some funds from Brussels for large projects, have become a distribution by communities by percentages and that are not going to generate those transforming effects. The tourism sector is the one that has suffered the most in the pandemic. Although we pride ourselves on being leaders, some pioneering destinations have huge problems. Ibiza gets less money than the Alpujarras commonwealth. And I have nothing against the Alpujarras, but it would have a greater pulling effect in Ibiza.
In addition, we ask that the administration collaborate with the private sector because perhaps they have us as accomplices. We have no voice or vote. If they ask and force them to commit, they could find that for every euro of funds the businessmen put up three. But for that he would have to participate in management.
Garamendi spoke yesterday that the solvency of companies must be guaranteed
As of Easter, the situation may go up. But be careful, we still have two or three months to go before Easter. And there are many companies that are at the limit. It is not that in 2021 they generated less than 42% of turnover, it is that in 2020 they fell by more than 60. Before fixing the country with the funds, we must try not to let many viable companies fall. They have beastly treasury tensions. More non-refundable money is needed for these three months with difficulties, to extend the expiration dates of the ICO credits and to extend the ERTE until the end of the year. In parallel, do not lose the funds from Brussels to invest in transformative projects.
How much would the amount of non-refundable aid amount to?
We don’t have it calculated because we have no way of knowing how many are on the ropes. Between 2020 and 2021, activity for almost 170,000 million euros has ceased to be generated.
I remember months ago you were talking about mergers or purchases of tourism companies. Is concentration avoidable?
In the accommodation sector, those companies that do not have assets are falling. Property owners have a degree of resistance. However, in recent months there have been many operations, although fewer than one would have thought because investment funds are looking for bargains. In the long run, the process of consolidation of the sector is going to be inevitable. In all sectors: airlines, travel agencies, hotels… the trend is going to grow because we are in a more global world that needs economies of scale and greater technology. That lack of sector size is a breeding ground for alliances.
Is it positive for the sector?
Yes, why not. Anything that may have the ultimate goal of providing more value at a lower cost means improving productivity, and improving productivity is an improvement for the sector, because it is one of the duties of tourism. Another size of company will facilitate the change of business culture, you will be able to professionalize yourself better and have better resources.
Could it lead to more companies going public?
The problem is that this sector has always been not very transparent. And going public means making a leap to the management of the company to periodically respond to the information requested by investors. There is more than one family entrepreneur who prefers not to leave even earning less.