AS the coronavirus crisis presents the tourism sector with a major and evolving challenge, more than half of hotels across the Balearic Islands have made the decision not to open this year.

The stark announcement was made by the Balearic Hotel Association (ACH) which represents hoteliers in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

In a statement penned by chairman Gabriel Llobera, who also serves as the Vice President of the Confederation for Business Associations in the Balearic Islands (CAEB), the ACH revealed that over 50% of hoteliers will likely delay opening until 2021.

However, they believe this percentage will increase in the following weeks depending on how the pandemic evolves in the country as well as in the rest of the world.

This is largely accountable to global travel restrictions and the dramatic change in the habits of travellers, airlines and tour operators since the outbreak of COVID-19. 

A recent poll conducted by Exceltur showed that 58% of people in the UK and 40% of people in Germany will not go on holiday this year due to fears over the virus.

Moreover, airlines operating in the European Union have on average grounded 98% of their fleets.

Mallorca hotel
EMPTY: Hotels remain closed across the Balearic Islands

Taking this into account, Llobera detailed two scenarios which the ACH has drawn up after discussions with its members.

The first, which he described as the ‘most negative’ option, is that most hotels will remain closed this year, due to the steep drop in a demand, especially from the German and British markets.

The second is that hotel chains may decide to open only one or two of their establishments from July 1 or September 1 to cater to a demand in a particular area.

This, Llobera says, will depend on tour operators restarting their activities and if the current restriction on travelling to Spain are relaxed.

The chairman also stressed the importance of accepting that there may be a year without tourists in the Balearic Islands and for this reason, hotels must maintain their liquidity to ensure that they can reopen in the future.

“We cannot jeopardise being able to operate normally in the 2021 season.

“Hotels must have the minimum occupancy to avoid losses and strategic decisions are now being taken to guarantee the long-term viability of companies,” said Llobera.

Earlier this week, the Olive Press reported that the majority of companies within the hospitality, commerce and nightlife industries would delay opening until Easter of next year.

In fear of incurring heavy expenses that cannot be offset with the usual influx of tourists, there is now a growing consensus among unions that reopening without clients will generate more losses than benefits.

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