The world loves something to worry about. The markets are reactionary and react to everything.
For the last few years it’s all been about Brexit and it’s effect on the economy of those reliant on UK business. Spain has sometimes been more consumed by Brexit than the UK and when you look at the numbers you can see why.
In 2019, Spain was the second most visited country in the world, recording 83.7 million international tourists which marked the seventh consecutive year of record-beating numbers. Tourism contributes over 10% of Spain’s GDP.
Out of the 83.7 million international tourists visiting Spain in 2019, almost 20 million were from the UK. That’s a big chunk of Spain’s economy right there. Brits love Spain and Spain loves the British pound, so of course Brexit was and still is a big preoccupation for the Spanish.
Brexit is now happening whether you/we/them like it or not so the constant chatter has ceased by everyone apart from the online fanatics but now we have our next ‘big’ thing to worry about.
The Coronavirus is totally dominating the headlines, our eardrums and eyeballs. Although the numbers are relatively low compared to flu, malaria and other common diseases the world has gone into meltdown.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist but my spider senses are dramatically aware that project fear has taken over. Any virus needs to be taken seriously but covid-19 has a death rate of less than 2% coupled with the fact that the majority of deaths are happening to the elderly, infirm and those with pre-existing health conditions. Most who contract the disease experience flu like symptoms then make a full recovery. This is not the Black Death.
However the knock on effect of project fear is catastrophic. World events are being cancelled, airlines are cutting flights, the world markets are in meltdown and tourism now has its next major headache.
Travel agents are reporting widespread cancellations, I myself have just cancelled a holiday to northern Italy. I still desperately wanted to go but my kids were adamant that they didn’t want to go to North Italy after watching the story unfold. Project fear won them over unfortunately and as we were due to be flying into the most infected area in Europe I decided to change our plans, we still travelled (of course) but Italy’s loss was Andorra’s gain.
It remains to be seen exactly where the Coronavirus takes us and how serious it actually becomes however the ace in the pack as always is the British tourists who are not easily deterred from taking their hard earned holidays.
Brexit and now Coronavirus are just bumps in the road for tourism but through it all the British tourist will carry on travelling and carry on spending. It’s hard to explain the British psyche to my Spanish friends however the good old ‘work hard, play hard’ analogy probably covers it as well as anything else.
Let’s hope this latest problem can be solved as quickly as possible but let’s also keep a little perspective and that life needs to go on. Project fear is only as big as we make it.