The Spanish tourism industry has raised concerns over two issues that could pose a potential threat to the competitiveness of Spain as a tourist destination. The first issue relates to Lufthansa’s plan to make Rome Fiumicino airport its new hub for intercontinental routes to Asia, America, and Africa. This move could potentially undermine the Madrid Barajas hub, which currently concentrates air traffic to Latin America, and would consequently “diminish the relevance of the Spain brand”.
The second issue is the proposed creation of a new tourist tax for non-EU visitors entering the Schengen Area, which could be implemented by the European Union as early as November. This new tax, named the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), would require non-EU tourists to pay a fee of 7 euros to enter the Schengen Area.
The Spanish Tourism Board is particularly concerned about the impact of this tax on British tourism, which is Spain’s main outbound market with 18 million arrivals in 2019. The tax would be in addition to the other local tourist taxes that tourists already pay for visiting certain Spanish destinations like the Balearic Islands.
The president of the Mesa del Turismo, Juan Molas, has issued a warning in relation to these two issues. He emphasized that these concerns may seem to be going unnoticed, but they constitute a potential threat to the competitiveness of the Spanish tourism sector.
Spain has been one of the most popular destinations for British tourists for decades. In 2019, Spain welcomed more than 18 million British tourists, making it the top destination for UK citizens. The proposed tourist tax could discourage British tourists from choosing Spain as their holiday destination, and instead, they may choose to visit other destinations that do not impose such fees.
Spain has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the country’s tourism industry has suffered a significant blow due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. The industry is slowly recovering, and any measures that could potentially hinder the sector’s recovery must be addressed with caution.
In conclusion, the concerns raised by the Spanish Tourism Board are valid and need to be addressed carefully. The Spanish government needs to work closely with its EU counterparts to ensure that any new policies do not negatively impact the country’s tourism industry. At the same time, the Spanish tourism industry must adapt and find new ways to attract visitors and remain competitive in the post-pandemic world.