The increase in tourist prices continues to not offset the rise in costs and debt
The rise in tourist prices It does not seem a priori an obstacle for the sector to achieve a summer season with record bookings, even bettering the records immediately prior to the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. According to a survey carried out by the Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies (ACAVE) among its associates, eight out of ten point to an increase in hiring of around 15% compared to 2019.
With more moderate inflation but without finishing being contained in depending on which headings, prices in the tourism sector rose 7.7% in the first quarter in relation to the same period of the previous year, according to the data handled by Exceltur, the Alliance for Tourism Excellence, which has among its partners companies such as Iberia, Air Nostrum, Amadeus, Meliá, NH Hotel Group or Renfe, among others.
This price increase is still not enough to offset two of the main challenges that the sector has had to face in the medium term: the sharp increase in debt to face the loss of 160,000 million euros caused by the health crisis and the no less intense increase in costs in the same period of time, be it financial costs (12.9%), salary costs (7.8 %), energy (17.4%), oil (15.8%) or other supplies (14.3%).
As Óscar Perelli, director of Studies and Research at Exceltur explained at the conference ‘Tourism growth, competitive advantage and sustainability under debate’, organized by Funcas, the tourism GDP indicator managed by the organization (which not only counts the influx of travelers nor is it limited to international tourism) exceeded by 11.5% the records of 2019 already between last January and May. This, thanks to the strong pull of foreign demand, which has come to recover after in recent years it was national demand that allowed the sector to survive.
“In Spain we depend to a greater extent on foreign tourism, so it is important to keep this in mind to make any analysis for this new summer season, in which forecasts point to a recovery in the number of reservations after the pandemic” , explains Voxel’s Marketing Director, Amaia Marsà. With regard to internal demand, the data on the tourist situation up to April show that both the figures for travelers (+2.3%) and overnight stays (+0.8%) have already exceeded 2019 levels.
Improvement of the tourist product to attract more spending
For the moment, the increase in prices is allowing tourism companies to register growth in sales and activity, although Perelli maintains that this has been accompanied at the same time by a very notable improvement in the tourism product, especially in terms of that the park of accommodation places is concerned. Thus, between 2019 and 2022 there has been a sharp increase in four and five star places due to the rebound in investment and the renovation of facilities, both in coastal and urban areas.
In his opinion, the best strategy that the sector can follow is to “invest in the repositioning of its offer” to attract tourists who contribute more and not necessarily more tourists. The latest data published by the National Institute of Statistics have been pointing in that direction. Thus, and despite the fact that the arrival of foreign travelers (21 million between January and April) fell 1.8% away from reaching the results of 2019, their spending already shot up 14.5% above that registered in the same period of the year prior to the pandemic, thus setting a new record, according to the Frontur and Egatur surveys.
Strong reduction in temporary employment
The improvement in prospects together with the effects of the labor reform approved by the Government of Pedro Sánchez have allowed, according to Perelli, that permanent contracts have increased by almost 20 points since 2019. The contractual temporary employment rate is at historical lows, at 7.6%, which is why it is practically half the Spanish average (13.9%), when before the aforementioned reform it presented levels above 30% .
Thus, the percentage of discontinuous landlines has gone from 12 of 2019 to 23.9% this year; that of full-time permanent workers has reached 40% and was 31.6% before the pandemic broke out, while the percentage of part-time permanent workers has increased from 18.8 to the current 27.8%. The Director of Studies and Research at Exceltur considers that this has also been possible thanks to the efforts that companies have been making in this period.