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The tourism sector is a sector that has a lot of particularities. These particularities, if not resolved, could seriously damage a sector that is clearly strategic for the economy.

The tourism sector is in a very complicated situation. It is worth the redundancy of the means in this matter, the different governments continue to ignore the declarations that, from organisms like ours, the World Tourism Forum Institute, we continue to make, in favor of a fast and effective action, with the only purpose of saving such a strategic sector for certain economies. We are not talking about just any sector, but about one of the most strategic sectors of our economy.

The adaptability and importance of this sector should be highlighted in this article. We are not talking about just any sector, since we are talking about 10.4% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, it is not the weight in the world’s GDP that highlights the importance of this, since tourism has another series of characteristics such as its adaptation to hostile environments, like the current one, as well as the amount of jobs that this sector generates, and which it has been generating throughout history. A job that, in the face of unemployment, is destroying.

To get an idea, it is important to emphasize, right from the start, that the losses that are currently being caused, in this sector alone, are valued at a daily figure of 5 billion dollars. But if this could seem a suppressible amount for some governments, it is enough to highlight other figures which, in the light of the data, could make these governments more aware. In this sense, figures such as the loss of one million daily jobs that the tourism sector is currently generating. Jobs that are being destroyed, at the pace of those that are not being created due to the situation.

Let us be realistic. Tourism is a clearly strategic sector for the world economy, let us hope that this is reflected throughout the article. And it is a strategic sector, in addition to everything mentioned above, because 20% of all employment generated since 2013 on the planet, all the new employment that has been created in the last 7 years, has been created by the tourism sector. In other words, two out of every ten jobs that have been generated on the planet since then have been generated by the tourism sector.

However, tourism also has a very important factor which, while making it vulnerable, allows it to adapt very quickly to the seasonality of this economic sector. Since the tourist season is very cyclical, the sector has a high rate of seasonality. In other words, in the high season, when there are peaks in demand, tourism increases recruitment at a very advanced rate. Such is the rate that the seasonality of the sector, at least in leading countries such as Spain, is 32%.

In this sense, 32% of jobs that, at this time and due to this scenario offered by the Coronavirus, are not going to be created, reducing the income of those people who, at this time, had that income that, in many cases, allowed those dependent on the tourism sector, those dependent on sun and beach tourism, to be supplied throughout the year with the income that has been produced in high season. A supply that, given what has happened, will not be possible in these hard times for the hotel businessman either.

And the worst thing of all. In spite of all this, despite the concern that the sector is showing in the light of the data, the different governments continue to ignore the sector as if it were just another sector. And it is not that the tourism sector is asking for more capital-intensive measures, as well as advantages in contrast to other sectors. It is that the tourism sector needs, as we all do, special measures, adapted to a sector that, obviously, has a peculiarity that many others do not have.

The application of general measures can alleviate the situation, but they are not as effective as those required by a sector full of peculiarities and peculiarities, such as tourism. In this respect, we are talking about a sector which, as I have said, is very temporary. Secondly, a sector that lives precisely from those actions that, at the moment, are completely paralysed, in the face of a viral outbreak that is only stopped through social distancing. Furthermore, finally, a sector that has lost its season completely, by affecting precisely the dates when this sector suffers that peak in demand that we mentioned earlier.

With these peculiarities, it is absurd to continue to believe that measures that benefit a sector such as industry, a sector such as the car industry, in this case, benefit the tourism sector. It is not logical to think that a series of generalist policies are going to provide effective solutions for all sectors equally. Especially in a scenario in which all economists are agreeing that the recovery will be asymmetrical, even for the sectors themselves. For this reason, the particularity of the sectors is the object of study, not the policies for companies.

It is time to look at who is being left behind and who is not with the policies we are implementing. We cannot play infinite sports with the tool for playing golf as well as with the football. Similarly, each sector needs concrete measures from which it can benefit. Even more so in economies that are fully dependent on tourism, both in terms of GDP and in terms of employment.

Francisco Coll MoralesEconomist

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