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Up to 55,000 job losses expected across Andalucía as tourists head home and hotels close

A crowded Malaga Airport on Sunday.
A crowded Malaga Airport on Sunday. / Salvador Salas
  • The region is set to lose eight million tourists and six billion euros from its economy as the coronavirus has a devastating effect on the tourism sector

Practically all hotels on the Costa del Sol are expected to close by the end of this week - an action that will have massive repercussions for the local tourism industry. As a direct result, some 12,000 people are set to become unemployed in the area, a figure which rises to 55,000 when looking at Andalucía as a whole.

One hundred and four establishments on the Costa had already ceased activity by Thursday morning following Sunday’s exodus from Malaga Airport.

Long queues formed as tourists cut short their holidays to escape the lockdown imposed by the Spanish government to fight the coronavirus crisis. Public announcements advised passengers to keep a distance of two metres between them in the queues, but this caused several problems with numbers similar to those seen during August.

Notices had informed hotel guests of the ban on leaving the premises as well as the closure of hotel gyms and pools, and airlines put into action special plans to return tourists to their countries of origin.

On Sunday Easyjet, TUI and Jet2.com announced that they would stop flying in and out of Spain on Tuesday, while Ryanair said that it would cut its schedule to comply with the state of alarm decree.

As a result, according to the head of the CC OO trade union in Malaga, Lola Villalba, it is now only a matter of days until all 500 hotel establishments on the Costa, which total 78,000 beds and employ about 12,000 workers in a month like March, will close and issue temporary stoppage notices (ERTE) being issued. In her view, most of these ERTEs would remain in place until at least June.

“It is an exercise in responsibility in the face of the situation we are experiencing,” she said, calling on the sector not to take advantage of the situation to cut staff permanently.

Worrying figures

Vice-president of the Junta de Andalucía and Minister for Tourism Juan Marín said on Wednesday that “in Andalucía this crisis will mean a reduction of between 25 and 30 per cent in the number of travellers this year”, with the total number of arrivals predicted to fall to around 24 million - a figure last seen in 2006.

This means a loss of eight million visitors to the region and six billion euros from the economy. What’s more, these predictions are based on the shutdown lasting no longer than the end of April.

Marín also pointed out that disused hotels could now be used “to keep older people or groups at risk in isolation or to house reinforcements from military units”.

New campaigns

In order to reduce the effects of the coronavirus on the region’s tourism, the Junta aims to restart its promotional campaigns the moment the health alert is lifted, targeting the domestic market in particular. The bigger task will be to attract back the foreign market.

In any case, Marín said: “I am confident that in the summer there will be tourists back on the Andalusian coast.”