Inner Spain was emptied of its tourists by the pandemic

L'Espagne intérieure vidée de ses touristes par la pandémie

CORDOBA | Usually, the Bar Santos, which is located in front of the mosque-cathedral of Cordoba, is teeming with customers who have come for his famous potato omelette, an institution. But with the coronavirus, “everything is dead”, says his owner.

The mosque-cathedral, the monument the most visited place in this andalusian city, has received since its re-opening on may 25 that 16 000 visitors, the equivalent of a “normal” week, explains to the AFP, the canon spokesman, Jose Juan Jimenez Güeto.

“It will take months to make up for it”, he warns, even if the 151 jobs the site have been preserved thanks to the surplus of previous years, which will also continue the work of restoration.

Around, many bars, hotels and shops are closed. And foreign tourists arrive to the account-drop.

In the Bar Santos, the only work the owner, Jesus Maldonado, whose the activity represents “a quarter of the normal”. Its ten employees are part-time unemployment.

The consequences of the pandemic on tourism, which accounts for 12 % of the Spanish GDP, are keenly felt in the cities of the interior of Spain, which do not attract in the summer as many visitors as the beaches, but have developed a rich cultural offer.

It is in these cities, such as Granada, Toledo or Segovia, that “the situation is the most difficult”, with “a drop in sales of more than 50 %” in the bars and restaurants of the historic centres, ensures the national federation of the hotel industry.

In Andalusia, the occupancy rate of the hotels in the interior is 25 %, on average, ten points less than the forecast for the coastal settlements in July, details of Francisco de la Torre, president of the employers ‘ organisation for regional hospitality, hotel and Catering industry.

Bars and restaurants andalusian could lose up to a third of their jobs, according to him.

Without tourists asian

Spain second world tourist destination behind France, the spending of international tourists fell by 62 % year on year from January to may, according to official data.

In Ronda, a small city of andalusia, famous for its arenas and its bridge overcoming of spectacular cliffs, Maria Lara Galindo worked for ten years as a guide for groups of visitors from asia.

But since mid-march, “I have not returned to work, there is nothing”, she says. Japanese and South Koreans are now allowed to enter the european Union, but they should not come back before next summer, according to it, and more as a couple or family group.

Maria Lara is one of the 500,000 self-employed workers in the tourism sector Spanish. Between 70 000 and 100 000 of them could lose their jobs, according to the Association of self-employed workers (ATA).

Morne Seville

In Seville, the foreign visitors are almost absent, and the Spanish rare.

Jordi Reinés, a nurse from Barcelona, has preferred to cancel a planned trip to Portugal to spend their holidays in Andalusia. “Travel abroad, we don’t even think about,” says his companion, Noemi Garcia.

“The year is lost, people do not have enough confidence to travel,” says Jose Romero, the owner of a kiosk of ice creams and beverages located in front of the famous Plaza of Spain.

Its trading and earns just 10 % of what he earned last year at the same time, he said, while the ten souvenir shops around it are closed.

“The uncertainty and fear delay everything,” sighed Isabel Diaz, who just reopened the shop family of fans after four months of closure, the never seen even during the civil War (1936-1939).

The new foci of contagion worry, because “one day it’s the enthusiasm is pervasive,” and the next “people seclude themselves again,” says Celia Ferrero, the vice-president of the ATA. “The consumer is still under the shock of the Covid, and will remain so until there is a solution”.

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