First of all it is hard; illogical even, to make conclusions even before the subject matter has concluded but here goes anyway: The Lock Down.
The Precarity of Tourism
In the late 60s when tourism in Andalucía really started kicking off, tourism was pipas, playa y paseos; i.e., cheap and cheerful. As long as you had beaches & sunshine and land to build hotels on, you had it made. Spain for Northern Europeans and Brits was exotic and on the doorstep. Above all, it was dirt cheap if you had a foreign currency in your pocket.
Then Spain joined the Euro…
Along with the Euro came a flurry of health & safety regulations from Brussels that wiped out the slapdash way that chiringuitos and bars were run, which was the very thing that attracted visitors from over the Pyrenees – no more sawdust on the floor and no more homemade mayonnaise, for example. The Euro also took away the low costs of holidaying in Spain, not just for foreigners, but also for Spaniards in their own country.
What kept Spain’s tourism above water was the political instability of cheaper rivals: North Africa wasn’t safe after terrorist attacks against tourists in Tunisia and Egypt. Furthermore, Spain was still cheaper than Italy. As far as Greece goes, some parts of that country are cheaper whilst other are more expensive.
Which brings us to today. The very fabric of Spanish tourism, quite probably, might not survive being locked down until the end of the year.
More people come to Spain for their holidays each year than the total population of the country, so if they don’t come…
Could Spanish national tourism keep things alive by itself, even be it, just barely? That’s the 65,000-dollar question. But when bars and restaurants are reopened, even with restriction, you’re going to get rivers of Spaniards queueing up to spend what little money they have, just to be able to sit and have a beer & tapa – and amongst their number, you and me.
Wealth or Health
Like it as not, whereas health has been and is the overwhelming consideration at the moment, on the long haul the economy is going to overtake it as far as priority goes.
There was an article on the BBC site about ten days ago in which a poor Indian stated, “I’m not worried that I could get the virus; what worries me is that I might starve to death.”
I’m not suggesting that things will get so bad that people are going to starve to death, but there will come a moment when the majority opinion held in the country will be, “I prefer to get back to work and take my chances with catching it.”
There will be a vaccine, but it is too far away to save the economy – it’s as simple as that. When the Government runs out of money to throw at the inactive population obediently sitting at home, there will be protests and then unrest.
It’s not a case of being mercenary about it or insensitive – it’s about being a realist.
Politicians & Doctors
If this crisis has shown us anything, it is that we have too many politicians and not enough doctors and nurses. Yes, politicians are easy targets because, quite frankly, in many cases, they deserve it.
Politicians, especially (but not solely) the opposition parties, are out to make political gain of the situation. However, it doesn’t matter which way you lean politically, nobody would like to be in the PM’s shoes at the moment.
The whole of our national health system is burning both ends of the candle to cope with a task made much more difficult by previous budget cuts and underfunding in general. Yes, Health and Pensions soak up the lion’s share of the national budget, but our politicians can be relied upon to make savings there rather than make cuts to their own budgets, especially when it comes to salaries.
Firemen, police, doctors, nurses, supermarket checkout workers and so many more put their lives on the line everyday so is it so much to ask that our political class stops looking out for its own interests and instead join together without bickering and mudslinging to get this ship through these dire straits?
The European Union
The EU arguably dropped the ball in 2008 and here we are in 2020 when they have not only dropped the ball, but punctured it as well, it seems. I mean, if ‘The Club’ can’t keep its roof leakproof over all its members’ heads when it is chucking it down outside, then what is the point in trying to shelter in the clubhouse?
The EU has to act like a unified union over Coronavirus or it won’t only be the UK waving good bye, but the very foundations of the EU, as well.
We either all sink or swim together or we can stop pretending that we are a serious entity.
The One-Way Street of Change.
Anybody who thinks that one day we will step out through our front doors to find yesterday waiting for us is deceiving themselves. We have lived in a country where the vast majority of people go out to eat in a restaurant, chiringuito or bar a couple of times a month – it’s the Spanish way. You’re not going to find that anymore, though, because those eating establishments that survive are going to have to hoist prices to be able to cover costs and still keep precautionary distancing between tables: fewer tables + same overheads = higher prices. Yes, they’ll need fewer staff but the premises’ rent, electricity bills etc, etc, are going to remain the same.
But let me leave you on a positive note: when we do stumble out into the daylight at the other end of this crisis; it will have taken away many things from us, but it can’t take away the sunshine.
(News/Editorial: Stock Checking)