Gabriel Escarrer (left) of Meliá and Exceltur. | Teresa Ayuga

Gabriel Escarrer, the CEO of Meliá Hotels, yesterday presented the latest report from Exceltur into the tourism situation in the country. Speaking in Madrid on behalf of the alliance for tourism excellence, of which he is vice-president, Escarrer warned that there will be a change in the tourism cycle this year. The growth rate will be much lower than in recent years. The Exceltur forecast is for 1.7% in tourism GDP. In 2018 it was two per cent but had been as high as five per cent in previous years.

The Melía CEO considered the reasons for this slowdown - economic deceleration in the UK and Germany, Brexit, highly accelerated recovery in competitor destinations (Turkey in the summer and Egypt in the winter), and political issues in Spain. On Brexit he said that British holidaymakers are delaying holiday decisions. While this situation wasn't "alarming", it was nevertheless causing some "unease" for the Spanish tourism industry.

Escarrer called for "more favourable" government policies, singling out planning and strategy and regulation of holiday rentals. He spoke about the way in which areas of tourism destinations in the country, such as Barcelona, are losing their identity by being oriented exclusively towards tourists.