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Language Tourism in Spain Collapses due to Covid19

Published Bernice on Monday, April 27, 2020

Language Tourism in Spain Collapses due to Covid19

The spread of the COVID-19, the limited mobility due to the state of alarm and the closure of borders is causing serious consequences on countless economic sectors in our country and where language tourism is among the most affected. That is why FEDELE (Federation of Spanish Schools in Spain), representing 102 Spanish schools distributed throughout the national territory, requests the government more support and special measures to guarantee the survival of the sector.

According to the recent FEDELE’s 2019 sector report, more than 138,000 foreign students visited Spain and stayed more than 470,000 weeks in Spanish cities. This sector is connected to the Knowledge Economy, with means to produce quality educational programs and services with useful and quantifiable added value for our society.

FEDELE schools receive students from all over the world, who have an interest in the language and culture: "They want to live Spanish in our streets, meet our people and enjoy our gastronomy. Travelers who seasonally adjust tourism traveling at any time of the year, and who have an average expenditure per stay greater than the tourism sector average. The schools, besides employing thousands of qualified professionals, offer indirect work to hosts families, hotels, travel agencies, transport companies, tour guides, restaurants and local businesses", claimed Mari Carmen Timor, President of FEDELE.

"Currently, as a result of the pandemic, all Spanish schools are closed and have requested a temporary lay-off for all workers until the situation is normalized, just as other key sectors to our economy. However, the situation of our sector is even more delicate since its reactivation depends directly on the recovery of the international mobility and the confidence of the travelers. The sector faces massive reserves cancellations from March to June and it is not excluded the idea that the arrival of summer will not improve the situation if international mobility is not revived", she continued.

Ms. Timor continued to tell us that, like in most other cases around the world, "the only alternative that our schools had, has been to give online classes. However, we should emphasize that this product has only served to avoid mass cancellations, which means that it will not be a regular service of our schools." Thanks to the great acceptance of this format by the students, schools have been able to keep in touch with their students and keep their teachers and staff active, avoiding then a temporary lay-off. "Online courses must be understood as a substitute for the daily and main activity of our schools and which in no way, in the long term, will be replaced", she stated.

There is a clear impact of COVID-19 on the language tourism. For that reason, FEDELE requests the Spanish government to consider this sector when cancelling the state of alarm and to make the reincorporation of the employees’ flexible for the companies with a temporary lay-off. In addition, the authorities should be more benevolent with these companies regarding the payment of taxes, since any fee paid now by the schools does nothing but undermine their economy and their situation.

"Therefore, the exemption of taxes now would be a minimal effort that the authorities could give us in order to safeguard our sector. Now is the moment to act and avoid the disappearance of many companies that contribute an incalculable value to our economy and society", Mari Carmen Timor concluded.



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