May'21 Message from the CEO
CEO Skål International
The “light at the end of the tunnel”, wanting “the world to come back to life” or the need to “adapt to the new normal” while also “taking up new activities”...
These words have been on the lips of thousands of tourism industry professionals this May... and, in Spain, May 2021 has been the most economically active month after more than an entire year of complete paralysis in our sector.
IFEMA, Spain’s major event, fair and convention complex in its capital of Madrid, has worked tirelessly to ensure safety and to be able to reopen with one of the tourism industry’s largest fairs.
FITUR 2021, which took place from the 19th to the 23trd of May, was an event that emphatically highlighted the need for the tourism industry to recover, alongside the goal of creating an environment of confidence and recovery for bushiness and destinations.
This sets a countdown in motion and provides an enormous opportunity for tourism as, with it, the international tourism fair calendar has opened, allowing sector professionals to enjoy five energetic days over which they have been able to make first contact with the industry and establish workflows after three months of inactivity due to COVID-19. Skål International took full advantage of the occasion by actively participating with its own stand and by attending highlighted events over the course of the fair.
IFEMA Madrid’s determination to kickstart Europe’s first in-person international fair has been very well received a sector with its gaze firmly fixed on the coming summer.
The figures also confirm the emergence of a turning point: the attendance of 5,000 businesses and 55 countries, with a total of more than 62,000 in-person attendees (42,000 professionals and more than 20,000 visitors estimated to visit over its two public open days). Add to these results the figure of more than 40,000 virtual visitors.
Within the framework of FITUR 2021 and at the IFEMA complex, I had the opportunity to take part in the Digital Enterprise Show 2021 (DES 2021), the largest European event on Digital Transformation, where the latest solutions and technologies that are revolutionising the travel and tourism industry were revealed.
There I had the opportunity to speak about Skål International’s recent technological evolution and the Digital Transformation that we are currently undergoing on a panel of world-class entrepreneurs entitled ‘The digital hospitality’.
However, the return of this type of in-person event still did not equate to a return to normality. As such, we complied with protocols based on the criteria set by healthcare bodies as well as public and international sector bodies to provide spaces that ensured safety, the control and protection of the health of the various participating groups as well as the hygiene, quality, and environmental safety of the facilities.
Events will be hosted under strict rules, respecting venue capacity and following all recommended safety protocols.
54th UNWTO Board of Affiliate Members Meeting
Madrid was also the location chosen during that very same period to be the site of the 54th UNWTO Meeting of the Board of Affiliate Members.
As you know, I represent Skål International at the UNWTO and, as a member of its Board, we are actively working on important issues relating to the reactivation of the tourism sector on a global scale.
There is no doubt that this has been a considerably active week that has allowed me to carry on nurturing the so-desperately-needed reawakening of our beloved tourism industry, as well as appreciate how business owners are preparing for the return of activity with hopes pinned on a slow but sure recovery soon.
In general terms, my impression and that of so many professionals that I had the chance to speak with about this subject during this period, has been unanimous: Tourism, the engine of the Spanish economy and of vital importance for Europe as a whole, is anticipating a summer period that is still somewhat distanced from figures from before the pandemic, yet bolstered by better results than in 2020 thanks to advances in vaccination across the continent.
I would like to send my encouragement and thanks to all the professionals and members who are making this possible for your work.