Despite the importance of tourism to Spain’s economy, Spanish respondents were more likely than French, German, and Italian respondents to think it unsafe for tourists from northern Europe to travel to southern Europe this July. Polls conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies in late June found that, even if certain measures are in place (such as testing, contact tracing, and the use of masks), 60% of Spanish respondents think it would be unsafe for tourists from northern Europe to travel to southern Europe in July. On the other hand, only 28% of Spanish respondents think it would be safe. This result is in sharp contrast to Italy, where 43% think it would be safe versus 36% who think it would be unsafe. The difference between Spanish and Italian respondents is remarkable, given that both countries were very seriously affected by the coronavirus crisis, and their economies are similarly as reliant on tourism.
Reflecting a similarly high level of concern about the possible health impact of coronavirus, Spanish respondents were also the most likely to say that they would get themselves vaccinated within the first year if a coronavirus vaccine becomes available at little to no financial cost. Our poll found that 69% of Spaniards would get vaccinated against coronavirus within the first year of the vaccine becoming available. This figure is substantially higher than the 48% of French respondents and 56% of German respondents who would get vaccinated within the first year. Italian respondents were a little closer to Spanish ones, with 61% of them saying they would get vaccinated within the first year. Indeed, the only country in Europe where respondents have expressed a greater willingness to get vaccinated within the first year (71%) was the UK, which is currently the worst-affected country in Europe (even more so than Spain).
Across Europe, millions worry about the future of their jobs and businesses, and policymakers ponder different ways to safely reactivate local economies. Naturally, this anxiety and the conditions of lockdown have led to new spending habits among consumers. However, Spain was the only one of the four countries polled where the plurality (43%) has reduced their spending during the coronavirus pandemic. On the other hand, the plurality of respondents in France (44%) and Italy (43%) and the majority in Germany (50%) say they are currently spending the same amount of money as before the pandemic. Meanwhile, only 33% of Spaniards are currently spending the same amount of money as they did before the pandemic, making Spain a noticeable exception among the four countries. This reticence to spend is possibly a result of lingering memories of the difficult economic crisis from which Spain had only recently emerged before coronavirus struck.
Moreover, 58% of Spanish respondents who have reduced their spending said they have done this due to financial concerns. On the other hand, only 43% of French respondents who are spending less money than before the pandemic are doing so because of financial concerns. When one considers the overall sample, these figures mean that roughly 25% of total respondents in Spain have reduced their spending in recent months due to financial concerns arising from the coronavirus crisis. On the other hand, roughly 15% of total respondents in France have done the same, which is indicative of the greater levels of anxiety in Spain over the country’s economic future and its impact on the job market.
The repercussions of these changes in Spanish spending habits are very much coherent with the narrative emerging from economists that Spain is likely to be one of the hardest-hit countries by the economic fallout that will follow coronavirus. Ultimately, from the reduction in spending by Spanish consumers through to high willingness to get vaccinated for coronavirus as soon as possible, as well as the high proportion of Spaniards who consider it unsafe for tourists from northern Europe to visit southern Europe in July, a picture emerges of a country that has been harrowed by the coronavirus pandemic, and is fearful of the months that lie ahead. With the majority of Spaniards saying Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez is not a good leader (55%), cannot get the economy going again (50%), and cannot bring Spaniards together (53%), the pessimism in the air is palpable.
Polling and economic figures over the next few months will reveal whether Sanchez is able to turn the tide and lead Spain into a period of recovery and prosperity.