Tourism is of great importance to the image and reputation of our country

By Jack Johnson, Destinations International

The above quote was uttered by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez this past week as he announced a $4.8 billion plan to help the tourism industry recover from the impact of the coronavirus crisis. The package was a recognition of the importance of a sector that accounts for 12% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP). The initiative, dubbed the Tourism Sector Promotion Plan will be focused on five areas: consolidating Spain as a safe destination; supporting companies in the sector; improving the competitiveness of the tourism industry; using marketing tools to promote international and domestic tourism; and building tourism intelligence with the creation of a new observatory.

The plan is not perfect.  It is smaller than the industry had hoped for. Furthermore, only 7% is in the form of direct investment with 60% of the plan is in the form of loans through the state-owned bank Instituto de Crédito Español (ICO).  It is also smaller than other countries have invested. Neighbor France for instance will inject four times as much as Spain into the travel industry.

It is also worth noting that while the Spanish government plan includes a campaign to promote national tourism, it does not contain specific aid to incentivize local consumption, unlike Italy where lower-income families can receive €500 to go on a holiday in the country or like the Temporary Travel Tax Credit being proposed in the United States by the U.S. Travel Association.

A coalition lead by U.S. Travel is lobbying Congress to create a new tax credit to encourage individuals to travel within the U.S. for business or leisure. Specifically, the tax credit would cover 50% of qualified travel expenses incurred in the U.S. before December 31, 2021, up to a maximum tax credit of $4,000 per household. Qualified travel expenses would include any expense over $50 that is incurred while traveling away from home in the U.S., with explicit reference to the expense of meals, lodging, recreation, transportation, amusement or entertainment, business meetings or events, and gasoline.

While the Spanish initiative could be bigger and more dynamic, what I do really appreciate is how the Spanish government is framing it – saving an industry that is of great importance to the image and reputation of the country. That is the mindset that every government should have.

For more information on the Spanish government’s proposal you can check this article out in Bloomberg: Spain Unveils $4.8 Billion Plan for Beaten-Up Tourism Sector. 

For more information on the Temporary Travel Tax Credit and other provisions included in U.S. Travel’s proposed Travel America Act, you can find a fact sheet here.

So please – take some time away, take a break and recharge your batteries.

About the Author

Jack Johnson
Chief Advocacy Officer
Destinations International
As Chief Advocacy Officer, Jack manages the overall public policy operations at Destinations International including member advocacy education and training, development of destination tools and best practices, coalition work with peer organizations, industry research and related public affairs activities. Currently, his work around positioning destination organizations as a shared value in each of their communities and speaking with a new lexicon based on the emotion driven by those values has made him one of the leading voices of the travel industry.