HomeAir LineJordi Hereu: “A double-digit growth in tourist spending is likely in 2024”

Jordi Hereu: “A double-digit growth in tourist spending is likely in 2024”

The Minister of Industry and Tourism calls to improve the purchasing power of workers and to continue reducing temporary employment in tourism

The Minister of Industry and Tourism, Jordi Hereu, this Friday during the interview held in his office in Madrid.Pablo Monge

Two months after taking over the Industry and Tourism portfolio, Jordi Hereu (Barcelona, ​​1965) is going to change two large maps of Europe that dominate his office, with the network of gas networks in 2016, for others of Spain in which he can review tourism and industrial projects. Pragmatism. Like the desire to “step on the street” to see how European funds impact. Hereu has verified at the Fitur tourism fair that the wind is blowing in favor: the registration of international visitors in 2023 will set a record of 84 million, for an expenditure of 108,000 million, 23.8% more than in 2022 and until 17 percentage points above 2019. Inflation has something to do with it, he acknowledges, but “Spain is on the path to improving the quality of tourism. Public policies and the private sector are generating a product with much more added value.”

Question: Are you satisfied with the tourism figures?

Answer: Spain has a magnificent engine. An injection of 108 billion in the economy is a great flow of prosperity, which drives many other things. More than 15 subsectors depend on it, in addition to the impact on other fields of the economy.

Q: You also talk about the positive effect on employment. Are quality jobs created?

A: Members at the end of December, compared to a year before, have increased by 5.4%. There are more than 132,000 additional members and I assure you that there is much less temporary employment thanks to the labor reform. The tourism we want is due to an improvement in purchasing power and shorter periods of time. These days at Fitur we have seen how the sector is generating new experiences and diversifying products beyond sun and beach, which is also becoming more sophisticated. Companies are the first interested in capturing scarce human capital. And once they attract people, the concern is retaining them. It is much more profitable to create policies to build employee loyalty than to undergo permanent rotation.

Q: Aena estimates a new record of travelers for 2024. Does it agree?

A: After a very good 2023, and with January almost over, it is consistent to expect a path of growth. This is indicated by the airlines with their fleet projects and reservations; Travel sales are also rising, and it seems that hoteliers are optimistic. 2024 will be satisfactory.

Minister Jordi Hereu.
Minister Jordi Hereu.Pablo Monge

Q: For the first quarter, an increase in tourist spending of 18.5% is budgeted. Will we move close to 20% by the end of the year?

A: Double-digit growth in spending is likely, but it is too early to know if we will be close to 10% or 20%. The income for the country will rise more than the number of visitors.

Q: Businessmen have expressed good expectations, but complaints are also heard about the absence of a strategic plan (PERTE) that serves to finance the reconversion of mature destinations. Should tourism policy be reformulated?

A: The figure of 3.4 billion for the transformation of the tourism sector, and to overcome the very serious crisis, was no small thing. Some of the sectors received support to survive, and then there has been investment in multiple plans: 1.8 billion for sustainability, more than 500 million in improving cultural heritage and 300 million in digitalization. Regarding PERTE, the definition of a value chain in a sector such as tourism, with hundreds of thousands of units, has little to do with the industrial sector.

If we had activated PERTEs in 2021 and 2022, would tourism companies have invested as the automobile has done? The State provides resources to attract investment, and many of those who now complain were not in a position to contribute. PERTE is based on an industrial public policy because there are private groups that multiply public resources by ten or twenty. Neither due to sectoral structure nor due to the crisis experienced, PERTE was the appropriate figure for tourism. Regarding possible lines to improve mature destinations, I will be happy if you bring me plans. The dialogue is magnificent and we are aligned on many things.

Q: Aena’s rate increase of 4.09% is coming and complaints are flooding in. Ryanair or Jet 2 have warned that decisions like these can move projects to other markets.

A: The Spain product has enough power to not be aware of this element, especially when rates have not increased for years. I understand your reasons, but I don’t think anyone will reconsider destinations because of the rate. I offer dialogue to airlines to address the development of new destinations.

Q: A possible tax on kerosene on intra-European flights is also scary. What does the Government say on a matter that requires unanimity in the EU?

A: It is a European decision within the objectives of fighting climate change. I believe in generating quality offers that make these elements have no impact. In any case, we must evolve and it is clear that I am concerned that this could affect us. It is to be expected that polluting fuels will be taxed to encourage the use of sustainable fuel or SAF, but this taxation must revert to the improvement of the product and the destination. We also need to take steps to advance SAF production and demand.

Q: Will you activate incentives?

A: It is important that Spain, which is a great demander, promotes local production projects. And we will study them. It is a good opportunity for the country. The aeronautical industry has to make its transition and anything that accelerates will be good for decarbanization and for social perception.

The head of Industry and Tourism says he is willing to study incentives for SAF production.
The head of Industry and Tourism says he is willing to study incentives for SAF production.Pablo Monge

Q: Do you see a feasible short flight restriction?

A: The railway is already replacing short-haul flights. It is necessary to nourish the hubs that have a vocation for connection with the world, and that is done by adding demand in points such as Madrid and Barcelona.

Q: Does Spain win with the addition of Iberia and Air Europa?

A: Yes, complying with the competition conditions that Europe establishes to fight against monopolies. Having big players is positive because we do not compete only in Europe, but we do so in the world.

Q: Tourist housing is increasing without end. Do you advocate regulating them?

A: We have created a team with Housing to see how the State can help so that this economic activity is regulated, known and has rules of the game. Regional laws must take into account that not all municipalities are the same. Each city council must have the capacity to evaluate this and send its vision to the regional governments. Tourist apartments cannot grow without limit, but that does not mean that they are part of the accommodation mix. The fight must be raised against illegal apartments.

“We are not going to drop industrial projects in Spain”

Crisis management. Since taking office, Hereu has inherited the possible departure of Alcoa and has experienced first-hand, among others, the threat from the tile sector to divest if it is not helped with the extra cost of energy. “In crisis management we are going to defend positions. We are not going to drop industrial projects. We are going to defend everyone, but especially those that have a structural territorial impact. There are groups that are not committed to staying and we have to be there for them to do so.”

Reindustrialization. Another of the guidelines that will follow will be for the industry to recover the weight it had in the past, where it contributed 20% of the Spanish GDP. “We will fight so that the weight of the industry is maintained and begins a growth process. “We believe that in the current context it is a good objective to start a reindustrialization process, which means capturing productive projects that had gone to other places.” In his opinion, this vision is nothing more than the translation to Spain of a desire that emerged within the community institutions for a globalization without limits, from the pandemic or the new geopolitical context. “Now other elements outside of competitiveness come into the equation.”

“The Perte with a face.” Hereu emphasizes that one of his obsessions will be to monitor and even supervise the management of the Strategic Plans for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE), which have represented a million-dollar injection for many companies. “Now we are going to move from large adjudication processes to large execution processes. The best is yet to come because it is what is going to transform the territories,” emphasizes the Minister of Industry and Tourism. “I’m thinking about leaving Spain because I want to see with my own eyes what PERTE is with a face. “I want to check the effective transformation.”

Electromobility. The minister affirms that the automotive industry is moving towards a great transformation. “We are a country with 17 plants, which produces and exports. Now we will live the transition process. It won’t be easy and Spain has a lot at stake. That is why the importance of electromobility and all the PERTEs of the electric vehicle.”

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