Toledo, Madrid, Andalusia, Santiago, Valencia, Barcelona, Murcia, Santander and Bilbao will host events organised by different sector associations
Different travel agency associations, including the Asociación Corporativa de Agencias de Viajes Especializadas (Acave), the Plataforma de Derechos de las Agencias de Viajes (PDAV), the platform #ayudaagentesdeviajes and the Asociación Experta de Profesionales Autónomos y Empresarios de Agencias de Viajes (Axpaevi) , are organising mobilisations over the next few days to demand direct aid for a sector that has been paralysed for nine months. Specifically, on 17 December the agencies will demonstrate in Toledo, Madrid, Santiago, Valencia, Andalusia and Barcelona; on 18 in Murcia and on 21 in Santander and Bilbao.
Martí Sarrate, President of Acave - the association organising the demonstration in Barcelona - explained to AGENTTRAVEL that the agencies are at a point in time when they need "decisive decisions to rescue a sector that has been one of the most affected since the beginning of COVID-19".
"Despite our dialogue with the various administrations, the aid we have requested and continually reiterated has not arrived. Furthermore, with the decisions they have taken, which have not been agreed with us, the situation is progressively worsening", he adds.
For Sarrate, the real contradiction is that "the agencies can open but it is not possible to sell due to lack of connectivity, restrictions, lack of product, perimeter closures, PCR and lack of unification of criteria within our country and the European Union".
For the moment, Acave has only considered this action because "it will be a great demonstration" and believes that it is a global way of expressing their concern for the continuity of the agencies' business.
"We must all be united, exhausting all the alternatives within our reach, so that they can see that this situation in which we are immersed cannot be delayed any longer, without ruling out the possibility that we will continue our struggle with dialogue and communication with all those directly responsible for tourism and other departments so that they can apply our demands urgently and in this way begin the recovery of our industry".
For his part, the President of the Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies (CEAV), Carlos Garrido, "understands and supports the actions being carried out by its associations to highlight the malaise and seriousness of our sector".
"Lack of interest and attention from the Government"
Elena Casado, vice-president of PDAV, another of the associations that have called for some of the protests, tells this media that they have taken this decision to mobilise the agents because of the "lack of attention and interest on the part of the Government".
"Every day we are going to a more complicated situation, which leads to a general closure and the death of a sector. Travel agencies are getting up and fighting to keep their businesses and their sector going," he argues.
At this moment, PDAV, in addition to calling some of the demonstrations, is helping and supporting associations or independent agents in organising mobilisations in other cities.
On the other hand, on 21 December next, the central government has to allocate direct aid from the European Funds. In this sense, Carlos Garrido is confident that direct aid will materialise for the sector because "it has been the most affected by the effects of the pandemic and restrictions on mobility".
"Although the ERTE and the ICO have helped us, it is not enough and we will not be able to leave without direct aid that will allow us to resist until the next few months when, with the vaccine, we hope to be able to return to activity," he argues.
For her part, Sarrate says that this process will take months to see the allocations for the projects that are presented.
However, she said that Acave is working to ensure that the travel agencies that wish to join these projects "are finalists in being able to receive this aid to improve and structure their business model and be able to access these funds".
For Elena Casado, the distribution of the European Funds is one of the main reasons why they are so popular before the 21st.
"Until now we have been left out of any kind of direct or indirect aid. Once again we think that we will be left out and we want to avoid continuing to be the tourism sector that is most forgotten by the government, being the one that has suffered the most," she concluded.