THE tourism sector has been crippled by the spread of the coronavirus in Mallorca with ministers fearing the worst for the economy.
A series of hotel chains have decided to delay opening at Easter, as the sixth confirmed case of COVID-19 emerged on the island.
It comes after a significant drop in bookings and a number of flight cancellations.
Mallorca-based Barcelo and Be Live Hotels confirmed they’re feeling the effects of the epidemic and room reservations for the Holy Week and in the summer had fallen badly.
Alarmingly, a number of tourists who had booked villas for the summer have already cancelled, the Olive Press can reveal.
Expat-run Look Mallorca confirmed it had seen FIVE bookings cancelled in June alone over fears the health crisis will worsen.
“All five were for luxury villas and all five have been cancelled by families scared about catching the virus while on holiday” revealed a spokesman.
“We are deeply worried that there will be more which will really affect our core business this year,” she added.
The President of the Hotel Association of Palma, Javier Vich, believes the negative impact of the virus on the economy is unquestionable and he fears it is set to worsen.
“This situation directly affects businesses in the whole of Mallorca,” he said.
The Mallorca Hotel Business Federation (FEHM) added that there would be a knock-on effect on employment with the majority of temporary contracts now postponed to start from April to the summer.
“We depend on tourism to exist and are being harmed by this epidemic which will have a direct impact on hiring workers,” said Maria Jose Aguilo.
A number of events and conferences have already been cancelled, including the XV Congress of the Spanish Society of Glaucoma, which was scheduled to take place at the Palacio de Congresos this week.
More than 400 ophthalmologists from across the world were scheduled to attend and its suspension is said to have taken organisers completely by surprise.
It was ordered by the Ministry of Health, with officials claiming they wanted to avoid having a large number of medical personnel in one place at one time.
It is hoped that no further events are cancelled at the centre.
Globally, the virus is set to have a huge impact on tourism, with the International Air Transport association estimating losses of €26 billion in 2020.
Travel analyst Ralph Hollister from GlobalData, said: “If the virus is still having the same impact by the end of April, cancellations could start to increase at a rapid rate as consumers deem the risk to their health to be greater than their need for a holiday.”
Director of the European Travel Commission Eduardo Santander added: “The impact on European tourism will be massive – we’re talking about big losses.”