Owners of hotels, bars and restaurants on the Costa del Sol claim they have no idea of ‘when or how’ they will open up their businesses given the lack of clarity from both central and regional governments.
AMBIGUOUS, unrealistic and conflicting dates have been proposed by both regional and central governments, according to the tourism sector. The central government is talking about tourism opening up in December, while the Andalucian government is saying May, which is causing huge confusion for the hoteliers, bars owners and restaurateurs, according to both the Costa del Sol Hotel Association (Aehcos) and Malaga’s Hospitality Association (Mahos).
There is much talk about the need to put up screens and invest in protective materials, and businesses in the hospitality sector are already inundated by suppliers pressuring them to “buy now, before stocks run out,” without the industry really knowing exactly what measures/guarantees the government will require to safeguard customers from the risk of Covid-19, according to Luis Callejón, President of Aehcos.
“Some businesses are already buying these materials and run the risk of wasting money, if they are finally not deemed necessary,” warned Callejón. “So we are advising firms not to invest a euro more until we know exactly when we can expect to open our businesses up.”
According to Callejón, the regional government has not provided any information on security measures either. “We also want to know from the central government exactly how many people are really infected by the coronavirus, and to stop repeating ‘wait a couple of weeks more’ for real and useful information,” he said. Callejón’s advice to hotels and restaurants/bars in the tourism sector: “Don’t bother throwing money at promotions or other investment, if we don’t even know that we can open this summer.”
Javier Frutos, President of Mahos agrees: “Our advice to restaurants and bars is not to invest at all unless the State specifically instructs us to.” Frutos wants clear rules that don’t warrant a huge investment on the part of owners in the current crisis, because it can “ruin the sector,” he warned. He criticised the regional government of making “premature announcements of a May opening when they are not even sure about the type of security measures that will be required,” he stated.
“Before we can open, we need to train up staff in the new security requirements. We will only attract customers back if they feel secure and we can guarantee them a Covid-19-free environment,” added Frutos. “If they don’t feel safe and are unable to enjoy the experience, they simply won’t come.”
Manuel Villafaina, President of the Beach Business Association (Asociación de Empresarios de Playa Beach), also raised his concerns over the lack of clarity from the government. “We really don’t know anything yet and they [the government] are just creating unnecessary alarm,” commented Villafaina. With his many years of experience in the ‘chiringuitos’ business, “the Health Ministry will be the one to dictate the new regulations,” he pointed out. “So everything you invest in now could be well spent – or not.”