HOW to destroy an economy.
It helps if you have a cash-strapped regime that screws tourism with Europe’s highest airport and IVA taxes.
Revolving door lunacy, Spain eases visa requirements to encourage non-EU investment then makes residence renewal virtually impossible.
Add to this dismal tapestry corrupt local authority with a lack of business experience and ethics. To this toxic potpourri, add airport management that is all too often at odds with its customers, the airline operators.
Due to civil unrest, Spain’s North African competition evaporated. Their loss our gain; it was the perfect opportunity to soak up their tourists. Fail!
From the bottom too there has to be change in business culture. Few businesses are professionally run. Sure, the owner has a skill or can provide a service.
Next time you are engaged in conversation with a trader, ask indirectly if they ever attended a business, leisure industry, sales or marketing course.
Managing a business requires accountancy, sales and marketing skills. It is not enough to set your stall out and expect the world to queue up. It does not work that way. I ask business owners: “What is your marketing policy,” or “what close do you use?” I get blank stares in return.
Mediterranean Spain is a tour operator’s dream, but how do you sell tacky? I recently visited Bristol. This small city boasts a far more diverse choice of classy bistros and restaurants than can be found between Valencia and Gibraltar.
Here we have depressing strips of uninspiring gift shops; sports bars with names and entertainment more suited to 1960s Rhyl or Margate.
All that is offered for entertainment is tribute acts to one-hit 1960s performers. Karaoke-crokey and Sweet Caroline. There are more charity events than you can shake a stick at. This is not going to lure modern tourists any more than bingo is.
Tourists love change, so a perfect opportunity for Spanish restaurants to profit. Unfair on those who do offer excellent deals, but many tourists and expatriates are victims to dual prices. Consequently, they are reluctant to explore native cuisine.
In the developed world an inability to speak English is considered as big a drawback as computer illiteracy or an inability to drive.
Fifty percent of the world’s population has familiarity with English. When the person who deals with customers fails to understand a client’s language, money is turned away.
Website content is often amateurishly written. It is proven that a single spelling mistake on a website will deter half of those checking it out, but there is a shoulder shrugging indifference when this is pointed out.
Spain could be capitalising but there has to be root and branch reform. Those charged with promoting Spanish investment have to show vision and leadership.
Believe me I am neither anti-Spain nor anti-business; I wish only the best for them both. Do not shoot the messenger.