SPAIN’S King Felipe has been told that tourism is vital to the country’s recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, and that includes the return of UK tourists to the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.
THE monarch met with the chief of the World Tourism Organisation, Zurab Pololikashvili, in Madrid, and was told that the tourism sector had a massive part to play in economic and social recovery in the face of the current crisis.
According to the WTO’s figures, tourism accounts for 12 per cent of the GDP of Spain, which in 2019 received nearly 84 million international tourists, whose expenditure amounted to around €100 billion.
In 2018, the country was the world’s number two destination in terms of both tourism arrivals and receipts.
Zurab Pololikashvili stressed the urgency to King Felipe of mustering a coordinated political response at an international level, as well as a real commitment to support tourism, a sector that accounts for 10 per cent of jobs worldwide.
The Covid-19 crisis has coincided with the beginning of the Decade of Action, the countdown to the achievement of the 17 goals deriving from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Tourism, in particular, has demonstrated its important role in sustainable development, “and that is why it must be part of relief programmes and actions, ensuring that no one is left behind,” said Pololikashvili.
In January, the WTO leader presented to the King the Madrid Declaration on Tourism in the 21st Century.
This Declaration, Pololikashvili said, “is now more relevant than ever because it emphasises the resilience of tourism in the most difficult situations.”
Today, tourism is among the hardest hit economic areas due to the crisis, and the WTO estimates that international tourist arrivals worldwide this year could fall by as much as 30 per cent, with a corresponding loss of international tourism income of up to €500 billion.
The WTO chief also expressed his thanks to Spain, which is the United Nations agency that is based in the country.
The pandemic “is a challenge for Spain and the rest of the world, but far from defeating us, it will make us stronger as a global society,” he concluded.