Doctor Marcus Stephan has hit out at the thought of holidaymakers returning quickly and life resuming after lockdown on Spain’s Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca
Doctor Marcus Stephan has given his views to the Euro Weekly News on bars and restaurants reopening too soon even though he also runs a business reliant on the tourist sector, he said:
“As a (semi) retired medical scientist, who now lives on the coast and runs a business firmly within the tourism sector, I have to say I have never seen such an absurd, frankly ridiculous, proposal from an authority. To me this just spells panic.
“The facts are very clear; we have a global pandemic to control and currently we have no vaccine and treatments remain fairly limited and on top of that the virus can be lethal. Isolation is the only sure way to prevent spread, and the cost to society in doing that is extremely high.
“We should all understand that. My business is currently facing close to meltdown, as are many others and I don’t have an answer yet. This daft proposal from our regional government seems to be based on a series of absurd assumptions; yes we all need to eat to stay alive, so we must be able to buy food.
“Likewise there are other essential things we need, I don’t need to list them.
“I earn my living from the tourism industry now, the brutal fact is that none of us need a holiday to stay alive, it is not a ‘distress purchase’ as food and clothing can be classed. Of course tourism is essential to Spain accounting for some 14 per cent GDP much more here of course, but this timetable seems to assume that holidaymakers are queuing up to come here and spend their money to stay in a hotel for example, where they can be served their meal in their room, much like they do in many prisons.
“If they choose to venture out and want to visit a restaurant, phone ahead assuming they know where to go, and make sure they are in a family group and of course get through their meal in record time before they look forward to their slot in the allotted zone on the beach tomorrow.
“I cannot for one moment think this is something people will choose to do. Of course it lets government off the hook because they will say we have let you trade again so what’s the problem? The problem is that the very fundamental business model that has evolved over many years to sustain a vibrant tourism industry is at complete odds with this approach.
“Yes we all need to find a way of managing until there is a vaccine or level of immunity within the population that stops spread, and some imaginative solutions will allow shops, large stores and some personal services to operate.
“It won’t be easy, and in some cases it just may not be economically viable to trade – this is the short term, and we have to put up with it. But to assume that the discretionary market, foreign tourists, will accept these sort of restrictions is daft in the extreme.
“We expect flying to be more expensive and less available for a start until things resolve, people come away to relax and act in a spontaneous way, even meet strangers.
“None of that can happen if you are imposing restrictions which attempt to provide a risk free environment. We also assume that visitors will have the financial means to take a holiday having been out of work for so long, or even that their employers will be happy to grant leave for the next year while they all try to make up ground.
“So what should Spain be seriously considering instead? They should accept that the tourism industry as we knew it is on hold. It is vital to Spain’s economy and for that reason alone it requires special treatment; that means substantial financial support probably for 12-18 months to keep these valuable businesses afloat until the demand side of the business returns.
“Otherwise when that happy date arrives and people do decide to visit us they will only find countless closed bars, restaurants, and empty hotels with for sale signs on them.
“It will be tough on other sectors of the economy of course, but the fundamental difference is that the demand for their goods and services is still there, with tourism you cannot say that. In conclusion, your article suggests that the tourism industry welcomes and supports these proposals, whoever said this needs to open their eyes and ears and take a look at what is happening around the world.
“I can’t wait to enjoy a coffee or a cold beer out of the house, but living here and putting up with the necessary restrictions is one thing, coming here as a visitor for a good time is quite something else.”