MADRID (Reuters) – Hotel bookings have fallen by as much as 40% in parts of Spain, the country’s hotel federation said and reported a crushing impact on the euro area’s fourth-largest economy as the anxiety about the coronavirus epidemic is setting in.
Tourism accounts for 12% of Spain’s gross domestic product and is particularly important during the Easter holiday period next month.
Hotel bookings were around 20% to 30% lower in early March compared to the same period a year ago and the drop is as high as 40% in some areas, the country’s hotel federation said.
“The impact is enormous,” said Jorge Marichal, President of the Spanish Federation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation CEHAT.
âThe (sales) numbers are dropping a lot. We are talking about a percentage between 20 and 30 per cent, in some places up to 40. It also depends on each type of installation, âhe said.
Concerns over the impact of the coronavirus on the sector were illustrated by a hotel in Tenerife, locked down with hundreds of tourists inside since February 25 after several cases of coronavirus were reported there.
The Canary Islands, where Tenerife is located, is one of the hardest hit tourist spots, another CEHAT official said.
Spain’s tourism ministry is in contact with the tourism industry and is monitoring the situation to assess whether it will need help, a ministry source said, asking not to be named.
Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said on Wednesday she did not expect a significant economic impact from the coronavirus in the country just yet as some hotel chains announced discounts and offers to attract suspicious travelers .
The disease has so far killed five people and infected 365 in Spain.
Some companies, such as the production of face masks, are experiencing an upsurge in demand.
“The requests are up to the minute, we are contacted by people all over the world,” the director of Spanish mask maker Climax told Reuters, declining to give his name.
He mentioned pharmacies, distributors and individuals as the main groups contacting him.
The Barcelona-based company is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of paper masks, selling them to more than 70 countries.
Despite growing demand, he said the company does not have the capacity to go beyond its current maximum production of around 20,000 masks per day.
Reporting by Guillermo Martinez and Joan Faus; edited by Ingrid Melander and Barbara Lewis