The travel agency sector defends Catalonia as one of the best tourist destinations in the worldCésar Gutierrez Calvo
From the Business Federation of Territorial Associations of Spanish Travel Agencies, we have been taking stock during the celebration of the 2nd Conference of Presidents of the Associations that make up FETAVE held last month in Malaga, the independence crisis that arose in Catalonia and its impact on tourism activity and Travel Agents.
Since the end of last September, FETAVE launched the first alarm in the sector of Travel Agents, just before the sad day of October 1st, on the negative impact of the independence crisis on tourism in Catalonia.
From a standpoint of prudence and wisdom, but as responsible civil society, FETAVE at state level, and the Association of Catalonian Travel Agencies (ASACAT) in Catalonia, opened the debate on the negative impact that the instability of Catalonia caused in the choice of tourist destination.
Although not everyone wanted to see it at that time, tourism, the so-called happiness industry, calls for stable, safe and comfortable environments, away from conflicting images that generate anxiety and concern.
Since that September 30th, and throughout the latest month and a half, the negative data on the critical evolution of the image and tourism in Catalonia, have only served to confirm our worst fears.
Accordingly, the employers' organization has wanted to address the independence crisis and take stock, based on the latest data on the IMSERSO tourist programme sales that show it is the first time that, more than two months after the IMSERSO trips were put on sale, there are still places available, and only in Catalonia.
Despite all what this means for our federation, "the time has come to turn the situation around, leave behind the quite serious crisis we have gone through and get to work to recover tourism and provide stability, confidence and security to the image of Catalonia in Spain and the entire world".
WE ARE PROUD TO BE A TOURIST LEADER
In fact, for tourism experts, and particularly for travel agencies, tourism should be an opportunity to get over this crisis, but not only for purely economic reasons, but to take advantage of the importance of tourism and travel as the most inclusive economic and social activity.
Indeed, Catalonians are proud to be a national and international tourist leader and it is a real advantage to deal with and get over the current crisis because of the image it conveys of the Catalonian society as an example of destination and a cosmopolitan and welcoming culture, happy to open up to the world and of welcoming and integrating all those who visit it.
Unfortunately, we cannot say that the impact of the crisis on tourism that we have suffered has already passed; we cannot even say that we have begun to get over the crisis.
For example, in 39 years of the history of the IMSERSO programme created in 1978, it is the first time that, more than two months after trips were put on sale, there are still free places, all of them in Catalonia, where only 20% of the available places have been sold.
But this bad news is not going to make us falter, in fact this is the moment in which we want to announce our firm commitment to Catalonia and its tourism. For its capacity of welcome and its vital and patrimonial wealth, and to draw the attention of society as a whole that Catalonia remains one of the best tourist destinations in the world.