CPP-LUXURY.COM has been reporting on the ground in Italy and Spain during the first weeks after re-opening during July. Both countries have registered among the highest stats of Covid-19 infections and fatalities.
ITALY has recovered faster – already in the first 3 weeks of July showing extremely small Covid-19 stats (less than 100 infections daily and many days without any fatalities. It opened many international flights especially within the E.U. – except France, Spain and the U.K. First tourists arriving from abroad were Germans, Swiss and Austrian who would mostly opt to drive to reach key destinations in Italy. Other tourists including Dutch, Portuguese, Czech, Romanian and Serbian would opt for direct flights to / from Italy.
Most luxury hotels in key destinations such as Venice, Florence and Capri would re-open from the first week of July, while only 30% of luxury hotels actually re-opened in Rome. Without any formal announcements, we were taken by surprise to see a British Airways plane land in Rome, just days before Italy announced it will make compulsory a 14 day quarantine for arrivals from Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaria – all the countries taken together registering less stats than the U.K.
This sudden dramatic measures take an incredible long term toll on travellers no matter from where they are, subconsciously, associating Italy with uncertainty, lack of predictability and most important, unreliable. Instead of this very harsh measure, Italy should have instead imposed tests of no longer than 96 hours to be presented at the customs on arrival. Word of mouth is more powerful than ever and the jump to a negative perception can be very fast.
SPAIN re-opened while still having a relatively large Covid-19 stats, but mainly in Madrid and Barcelona, with the Balearic islands boasting extremely small Covid-19 stats. This is what motivated travellers from many E.U. to opt for Palma de Mallorca as a safe destination, including British travellers who would benefit from several daily direct flights from the U.K. to Palma de Mallorca.
On July 26th, Brits woke up in Palma de Mallorca to the news that the British Government had imposed with immediate application a mandatory 14 day quarantine for all Brits returning from Spain, without making any differentiation. The measure was announced during the night on 25-26 July. Luxury hotels in Palma de Mallorca saw their occupancy almost halved.
Although precise Covid-19 scientific reasoning does not justify the panic created around Barcelona and Madrid, the two cities are seeing record low occupancy, some hotels remaining closed, while other had to shut down once again. A similar rumour based information has been circulating about Marbella, although concrete stats do not show any spike. Most of the travel retail at all major Spanish airports is closed.
Spain has been much more strict than Italy in implementing safety and hygiene measures especially at airports. By comparison, in Spain, all locals and tourist are wearing masks when indoors at any time, including hotels, restaurants, shops etc. Many Spanish would even wear masks outdoors. Distancing is also implemented more strictly.
Unlike Italy, where even indoor-dining, night clubs and discos have been allowed to reopen, Spain has only allowed dining in outdoor spaces or restaurants with large terraces.
The incredible efforts and sacrifices of all the employees in the hospitality sector and other sectors directly connected to tourism, in both Italy and Spain seem to have been in vain, with actual decision making being made at political levels. For those hotels which managed to reopen, it is critical to keep alive their business, especially considering the resilience they have shown in providing the highest service standards despite all challenges.
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