The economist José Carlos Díez, one of the most influential experts in his field and author of the book Hay vida después de la crisis (‘There is life after the crisis’), gave a talk on 23 May about the future of the tourism industry, at the Beach Club of the Hotel Vincci Estrella del Mar 5* in Marbella. In the opening to his speech he gave a nod to the representatives of the tourist sector present: “It’s a pleasure to be here with these business leaders, because it’s their companies that are going to get us out of this economic situation.”

Díez emphasised that “tourism was the major economic sector in 2013, its contribution must have grown by around eight-tenths of one percent of total Spanish GDP. Without the growth in the tourism sector, the Spanish economy would have fallen 2%, which was what everyone was predicting. Tourism was the big, pleasant, surprise in 2013, and it continues to be so at the start of 2014. Much of that is concentrated in the Canary Islands, which is in its high season at the moment, but the April data, which includes Easter, is very good. Here in Marbella I’ve heard that things are going well, that the sector overall is going well.”

Jose Carlos Díaz

The expert said there were a number of reasons for the solid performance of the tourism sector: “The main countries visitors come from are doing well, the UK is growing at 3%, and although the effective cost for British holidaymakers has gone up a bit due to the 20-25% depreciation in the pound, the Spanish hotel sector has lowered prices. In the Hotel Price Index you can see that since 2007 there’s been a price adjustment across Spain, with an average fall of 15-20%. That’s made up for the fall in the value of the pound and, provided nothing odd happens, the number of tourists coming from Britain will continue to be strong. Both the UK and the USA are growing.

In the rest of Europe: Germany is doing fine, growing at around 2-2.5%, and German tourists will also be coming here; German salaries are growing at 3%, and unemployment is 5%. That market should be fine. The rest of Europe however isn’t doing so well, the French economy is flat, with serious problems and Italy also has difficulties, with the economy contracting in the last quarter. In Eastern Europe, in Poland, the lower transport costs are very favourable for Spanish tourism. As for Russia, the country may have issues, having got itself into a very difficult situation with Ukraine. The rouble has fallen 35% against the euro, so for Russians Spain is now 35% more expensive, though it appears that the Russian tourists who are coming here are very well off.”

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