The economies of France and Italy have done better during the pandemic. According to the balance of payments from the European Central Bank, the losses of both countries combined do not exceed what Spain lost between January and September 2020. The explanation is simple: Spain focuses on selling tourists its so-called sun and beach model, so most of the visits take place in spring and summer, precisely the time when the greatest restrictions were imposed in 2020. France and Italy’s visitors are more staggered throughout the year, which helped them make up for the international tourism crisis.
Although Spain is the third country in the world with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, surpassed only by Italy and China, none of them are among the 20 most visited. Analysts agree that tourists who come to Spain are interested in sun and beach. It is quite astounding that this should be so, in a country that is home to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the Alhambra in Granada, and the Prado Museum in Madrid. The truth is that many decades ago, the Spaniards bet everything on that tourist card that has placed the country in its present predicament.
With only 50 percent of their pre-pandemic turnover in 2020, Spanish travel agencies, tour operators, hotels and catering services have had to place many of their workers in Temporary Redundancy Proceedings, an authorization that exempts them from paying workers, who are instead a portion of their salaries by the government.