Portugal’s second-largest hotel chain is busily preparing to reopen in June, joining what Euronews online describes as “a scramble by Europe’s tourism industry to salvage what it can from this summer season as coronavirus lockdowns begin to ease”.
Says the news provider, staff employed by the Vila Galé group are stocking up on sanitisers, gloves, masks and thermometers, re-arranging dining tables to keep guests at least 1.5 metres apart, and drawing up a la carte menus to replace buffets.
“We have to endure the situation and get some revenue this summer,” executive board member Goncalo Rebelo de Almeida tells the online. “I hope … that will at least allow us to pay fixed costs. And then we will bank on it returning to normal in 2021.”
International travel is expected to drop 39 per cent this year, says Euronews. This is equivalent to 577 million fewer journeys which is “catastrophic for an industry that accounts for more than 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) and employs some 320 million people”.
And while Europe’s ‘Marshall Plan’ involving ‘vast economic stimulus packages’ to haul hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies and cruise companies back from collapse is by no means defined, there are doubts that some destinations will be able to persuade northern Europeans to come south this summer.
Spain and Italy “in particular are infection hotspots” says the online, citing fear also in Greece that many businesses won’t survive.
Says Euronews: “Portugal is working hard on its image as a safe place to visit”. It is “preparing health safety certifications for hotels, which will be required to offer protective equipment and even coronavirus tests for employees and customers”.
Measures that nationals may view as ‘a bit excessive’ may be exactly what outsiders keen to get some sun this summer will want to read about.