Dec. 3, 2021


Fernando Valdés

Spain

Fernando Valdés

Secretary of State for Tourism Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Tourism,

With the global tourism sector heavily affected in the last year, the Secretary of State for Tourism is working on increasing security and mobility to position Spain as a safe market for tourism.

BIO

Fernando Valdés holds a degree in business administration and management from Carlos III University, a master's degree in international relations and African studies from the Autonomous University of Madrid, and a master's degree in strategic studies and international security from the University of Granada. He has worked in various positions at AECID and in the ministries of economy and public administrations, and as managing director of AEVAL. He held the position of deputy director general of digitization of industry and collaborative environments of the General Directorate of Industry and SMEs in the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness. He was the undersecretary of industry, commerce, and tourism from 2018 to 2020.


In 2020, according to INE, international tourist arrivals fell by 77.3% compared to 2019. What action plans did you carry out since your arrival?

Currently, the priorities for the tourism sector are clear. We have to focus on helping the industry by examining the sector's value chain. In addition, I have tried to work on two different elements that are connected: security and mobility. We have worked on security protocols for the tourism sector, among other strategies. The minister recently launched an international campaign to position Spain as a safe market for tourism, and we are investing in advertising to promote Spain is a safe destination. Meanwhile, tourism business owners have implemented many strategies to ensure their establishments are safe. In the EU, we have already established common criteria when establishing the level of epidemiological risk in the different regions, with what is known as the European traffic light system. Furthermore, we are being extremely active in promoting the Digital Certificate, which should allow us to gradually reactivate international tourism in Spain. We aspire to be able to operate not only within the EU, but also with third countries that have developed similar systems. Today, we have a set of measures including vaccinations, travel tests, use of masks, and other social distancing measures that all combined should allow us to resume mobility without putting the control of the pandemic at risk.

In response to the crisis, ERTEs, a sector promotion plan costing over EUR4.2 billion, was launched. In what other initiatives have you worked to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the sector?

Another of the important actions that this secretariat has participated in is in the negotiation to provide access to liquidity for businesses. These are the so-called ICO loans, and about 120,000 tourism businesses have received some EUR16.6 billion in loans that are backed by the government. Another priority for us has been in terms of taxes. We want to implement tax moratoriums for taxpayers. This has been an exceptional situation, and at some point, life will return to normal. We are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.

What are the key aspects of the Travel Safe campaign?

The campaign Travel Safe is managed by Turespaña. We conducted some studies on the brand Spain, Marca España, and the brand as a tourist destination has not been affected by the pandemic. The brand itself has been extremely resilient to the effects of the pandemic. Our focus now with this new campaign is on safety and tourism. We are developing a landing page that includes all the restrictions and measures being taken to stave off the spread of the pandemic so that people can plan their trip. The landing website will have all the information needed on what needs to be done when traveling to Spain. We want travelers to feel that tourism in Spain continues to be a safe activity as long as they plan ahead and understand what needs to be done.

What is your strategy to promote business tourism?

Tourism in the future will be an experienced-based tourism. In this regard, we want to position MICE tourism as one of the most important parts of our product portfolio. In this area, we will develop a program to revamp Palacio de Congresos of Madrid, and the resources needed to refurbish Palacio de Congresos have been included in the nation's budget. This is one of the most important projects in our strategy to improve our offerings in MICE tourism. Meanwhile, we want to invest in the sustainability of the tourism product. In that segment, MICE is a key element because it assists in our goals for regional development and counter the seasonal effects of the arrival of tourists. We have excellent venues for MICE tourism, not only in Madrid and Barcelona, but also in other cities such as Malaga, Seville, and Bilbao.

ADVERTISEMENT