Playa de Palma, Mallorca. archive photo. | Ultima Hora

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The Spanish Confederation of Tourist Hotels and Accommodation, or CEHAT, has asked the Government to extend the temporary employment regulation, or ERTE throughout 2021 and exempt them from Social Security contributions, as a result of less than flattering forecasts for the Sector in 2021.

CEHAT, which represents independent hotels, chain hotels, holiday apartments, resorts and camping grounds, insists that additional measures and demand-stimulating programs are needed, such as the return of the IMSERSO program, when a large percentage of seniors are vaccinated as well as the creation of tourist vouchers.

The Government has already extended ERTE for force majeure until May 9 when the current State of Emergency ends and all Tourism sub-Sectors, such as the Hospitality Industry and Campsites are included.

The Confederation points out that given the lack of confidence and air connectivity in the entire international market, there will be no short-term recovery within the Sector.

CEHAT President Jorge Marichal has said that the prospects for 2021 are not good because everything depends on how long the pandemic lasts and that the goal now is to prevent the destruction of companies and think about the workers.

Marichal also objects to paying Social Security contributions when workers are in ERTE, and has accused the Government of discriminating against companies with more than 50 employees, saying they are affected just as much as others and in many cases are experiencing severe cash flow problems, which are forcing them to borrow money.

Marichal stressed that even when activity resumes it won’t be possible to hire the same number of people as in 2019, which was a record year for tourism, so there will have to be flexibility in the clause of maintenance of employment in line with the recovery of demand and the need to incorporate workers.

"We cannot be deluded into thinking that simply having a vaccine will have a champagne bottle effect that will fill tourist accommodation in Spanish destinations," he said.

CEHAT did however offer a glimmer of hope for long-term recovery, predicting that tourists will regain their confidence to travel again once vaccines and pharmaceutical developments have succeeded in treating the virus.