Published on : Thursday, October 8, 2020
Now, one can see taxis standing still for hours at Madrid airport without picking up a single client while the square outside of the Royal Palace is empty.
With the capital of the world’s second largest tourist destination in partial lockdown since Friday night to combat a surge in corona virus cases, visitors have vanished and the hospitality sector is fearing the worse.
“We barely registered occupancy in our hotels due to limitations on international mobility, and now we face hard restrictions that won’t allow us to accommodate customers from other regions of Spain,” said Gabriel Garcia Alonso, the head of Madrid hotels association AEHM.
Just when tourism, which is a pillar of the Spanish economy accounting for around 12 percent of its GDP, was showing signs of picking up, “they create this confusion”, Alonso added.
Under the terms of the lockdown which was announced on Friday night in Madrid and several satellite towns, the city’s borders are shut down for outsiders for non-essential visits, although people are allowed to cross boundaries for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping.
The tourism ministry said that tourists are prohibited to spend the night in affected municipalities but can go through them if they are in transit to go somewhere else.
Some tourists have still managed to enter the city due to slack measures.
At Madrid airport, which is Spain’s busiest, an average of around 5.5 million passengers per month was handled before the pandemic, with taxis forming a long queue waiting for clients.
There are now fewer flights and few tourists who arrive head to other regions of Spain.
In Madrid, 70 percent of hotels are already closed and those still open are operating at around 20 percent capacity, said Garcia Alonso of hotel association AEHM.
The new restrictions will be in force for at least 14 days, and hoteliers are bracing themselves for more “job losses and business closures”, Alonso added.
October, which includes Spain’s national day holiday, is traditionally considered the best month for tourism in Madrid.