Post-pandemic tourism: the European view of the recovery of the sector after the reopening
Eurochile held two workshops with Spanish experts and entrepreneurs to analyze how tourism is reopening in that country and in Europe, where this sector, one of the hardest hit by the crisis, begins to rise with strong security measures but, mainly, thanks to the joint work between all its actors.
Since 2018, Eurochile has been working with municipalities in the Arauco Province, entrepreneurs and tourism chambers in the area to strengthen existing institutions; develop new exponential tourism products and create innovative proposals for tourism development in the area.
To give continuity to this work, and to adapt it to the new scenario of economic crisis generated by the coronavirus pandemic -which has strongly impacted this sector – Eurochile is seeking to expand to other communes in the province and in recent weeks the foundation carried out two workshops to transfer European knowledge and experience on how to face the problems generated by Covid-19 on that continent, and how they are facing the recovery.
The first of these, held June 23, was an exhibition by Luis Baldó, Spanish expert in tourism and cultural planning of the territory and management of tourist destinations, and Trini Fernández, head of Tourism at the Ayuntamiento de Cudillero (Asturias).
According to Baldó, the first subsectors that are expected to gradually emerge from the crisis are those related to nature, lodgings and outdoor activities in natural areas, which the Province of Arauco has high potential. In this context, urban and meeting tourism is expected to recover as last.
“The most important variables for the recovery is that there are economic support measures by the administration, but the capture of the local market will be essential,” said Luis Baldó. At the same time, greater professionalisation will be required of the sector, while the preferences of tourists are being oriented towards leisure and gastronomy.
The isolation in Spain ended on June 21, and although people have been willing to travel after many months in confinement, it is essential to provide them with all the security guarantees at the destination, said Trini Fernández. While it is impossible for a place to guarantee that it is free of Covid-19, or that a person is not going to get it, they can guarantee that they comply with all the security measures.
Something that has been seen is that tourists prefer isolated accommodation, which is exemplified with hotels and pensions which have not done very well post confinement, and neither have campsites; on the other hand, the interest has increased on houses of summer and individual lodges, said Trini Fernandez.
A recommendation from the experts is that the reactivation is not based on prices -because you have to pay the costs of implementing security protocols-, but consider aspects such as promotion and being flexible with the cancellation of reservations. Today, they say, it is impossible for an entrepreneur to promote himself in a market, on the contrary, he must be part of a destination that must work together to attract visitors.
The experience of entrepreneurs
In a second workshop, held June 30, the experience of a new European tourism after the re- opening was discussed, and how they have faced the crisis in the sector, from the point of view of the entrepreneurs. Again, from the interesting perspective of what is happening today in Spain, two representatives of tourism companies from that country exposed: Julio Bobes, president of the Rural Tourism Cluster of Asturias and of the Association of Active Tourism and Hostels ATAYA; and the vice president of the Cluster, Ana Soberón.
In this crisis scenario and in the subsequent start of recovery for tourism activity, says Bobes, the pandemic has generated the union of the entire sector, of all the items involved in it. And also, he adds, the confinement time has been for many an opportunity to train. “It has also helped us to have training in social networks, marketing, generation of photographic and video resources, and languages,” he said.
How to get out of the crisis? “When we entered the closing phase and began to cancel the reservations, we saw a very black future. Then they start talking about a series of measures to take, the truth is that there was a lot of confusion because things changed from one day to another”, Bobes recalls about the first weeks of the closing period.
Today, after the progressive opening of the sector, he says that one of the fundamental aspects to consider is not to rush. “If I rush to open, how many people do I open for? We do not know how many are going, and therefore there is no balance. Those who rushed began to spend on an endless amount of sanitary elements that with the passage of weeks were becoming expendable, “he said.
Another relevant aspect for the recovery of tourism is the support of public institutions, which does not necessarily require money, which is also necessary, but rather support in the creation of products, in the promotion of the activity, the advertising of the destination, etc.
“We saw that we all had to work together, and we proposed to the government the possibility of creating a product to promote complementary activities that serve the accommodations to create packages for weekends and weekly. It was not a matter of throwing prices away – now it is just when we do not have to, because I am not going to be able to work at volume and there are capacity limitations – and Asturias has provided money to contract tourist activities, such as guides, visits to museums, wellness, active tourism, etc., where each person who spends at least two nights can have any of these complementary activities for free, “explained Bobes.
Another key aspect in the reopening has been security for customers, in a scenario where they are willing to pay more for greater security on their trips. To this end, a series of measures have been implemented, such as the prior sending of the check-in to the tourist so that they can complete their information and when they arrive only firm -helping to comply with the distance measures-, payments by internet or cell phone, the promotion of destinations in digital form and the creation of a responsible tourism seal that makes entrepreneurs comply with protocols.
To view the webinars, we invite you to enter the following links:
Webinar June 23, 2020: https://youtu.be/_OaTPXTFewE
Webinar June 30, 2020: https://youtu.be/ZBV6mUEgIp4