Tourist occupation hits all-time low in the Canary Islands
After a grim December, in which the occupation in the open hotels was maintained thanks to residents and a few tourists, the figures have now collapsed to historical lows never seen before in the islands. As of next week, tourist forecasts are practically zero and worse than in November, which were already dire.
The collapse of reservations is accompanied by a sharp drop in prices, at Christmas they rose slightly as it is the "most expensive" time of the year, although the 2020 rates didn’t compare with those of previous years, "We are worse than in November or December," says the president of the hoteliers association FEHT, José María Mañaricúa, who inevitably foresees that more establishments will close in the coming days.
Since last week more announcements have been made, with Riu now saying that it will close 11 of its establishments in the Canary Islands and keep just seven open. The rest of the chains will do the same. Some, as Mañaricúa points out, will try to hold out but many will decide to close due to the scarce tourist predictions for the coming months until the summer, when there is a glimmer of hope for the sector supported by the vaccine.
"We will continue to hibernate and lose money," says Mañaricúa, who is confident that the ERTE will be extended until July for the tourism sector. “If there is an extension, we can continue to hold out even though we will all be losing money. If they end it on January 31st, then we are talking about a completely different scenario and situation," he says.
“Vulture funds” are circling:
Regarding the sale of hotels in the Canary Islands derived from the current crisis, Mañaricúa, says that it is not happening. He acknowledges that there are small family-friendly apartment complexes for sale on the islands but rejects the fact that there are large hotels are for sale. "We have had very good tourist years and the sector has been healthy and has the capacity to endure this for a while," he says.
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Industry sources indicate, however, that the ‘vulture funds’ have arrived in the Canary Islands and that they are looking for bargains. There have already been several cases, according to these sources, where owners have sold the property of the establishment, but they are maintaining management of it. “These funds have their eyes set on the Canary Islands and want to buy. The issue is that they are finding prices higher than they expected at the moment”, these sources indicate.
As they point out, if the prospects and the situation do not improve in the coming months in the first half of this year, then it is inevitable that some will be sold, as well as bankruptcies of tour operators. Some wholesalers and airlines are in an extreme situation, with many difficulties to obtain refinancing or injections of public money that will help them to weather this hard storm.
The tourism sector in the Canary Islands cannot hide its concern about the current situation, with forecasts that are currently nil and a very negative evolution of the pandemic, which has led to harsh restrictions and confinements throughout Europe, "Tourism right now is neither there nor expected", indicate sources close to it, “The vaccine appears as the only hope to try and save the summer.”