Gabriel Escarrer, the CEO of Meliá Hotels International and president of the Exceltur alliance for tourism excellence, advised Prime Minister Sánchez on Tuesday that government plans for labour reform and an increase in the minimum wage could have very serious consequences for employment in the tourism industry.
Escarrer and Sánchez were both taking part in the Exceltur Tourism Leadership Forum in Madrid, which is typically held the day before the opening of the Fitur tourism fair. The Meliá CEO asked the prime minister to reflect on planned economic policy, telling Sánchez that removing elements of flexibility from a seasonal industry, which is intensive in terms of employment of personnel with low qualifications, will affect jobs.
The prime minister heard that social advance has to be feasible and sustainable. Escarrer highlighted the fact that there have been "notable increases" in salaries because of collective bargaining agreements. These show that the tourism industry has been achieving advances in both labour and social terms, but Escarrer warned the prime minister about policies which could have a negative impact on employment at a time when the general economy is slowing down and the tourism economy is in particular.
Escarrer accepted that businesses in the tourism sector have a responsibility for transforming models of tourism in order to attain greater social and economic profitability.
He moved on to identify the major themes under consideration at the forum. These were commitments to sustainability, responsible tourism, innovation and digital transformation.
He stressed that there cannot be tourism competition simply on price and that indicators of tourism success should not merely be about the number of tourists or the level of spending; these indicators are too "simplistic". There must be greater corporate social responsibility and an adherence to the principal components of technological and digital change.
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