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Much though it can seem offensive when people are being killed at the command of a psychopath in the Kremlin, tourism life goes on, its resuscitation vital for general economic well-being. The recovery of tourist numbers does jar with events, but recovery is what is being prescribed, almost back to normal, to believe some. Or this was opinion before it all started in Ukraine.

Tourism in one particular respect doesn’t matter when it has to do with the UN’s World Tourism Organization. Zurab Pololikashvili, the secretary general of the UNWTO and a Georgian, tweeted on his personal account at the weekend, asking if consideration should be given to suspending Russia’s membership. By Wednesday, things had moved on. There is to be an extraordinary meeting of the executive council next week to discuss the matter. If the council agrees to suspension, this would then have to be put to an extraordinary general assembly. A two-thirds majority would be needed.

Putin may or may not be taking any notice of decisions by the likes of sports bodies. Even if he is, he won’t be losing any sleep over what a UNWTO extraordinary assembly may decide whenever it is convened (which isn’t a certainty). If there were to be suspension, it would rank - in terms of “sanctions” - as one of the most pointless, if not the most. Membership doesn’t exactly determine a nation’s tourism success or the lack thereof. Just ask, for example, the UK or the USA, neither of which is a member.

A harmful impact of the conflict on tourism boils down to money. Russian tourists in Spain spend on average 1,536 euros per person per stay, some 25% higher than the average spend for all tourists. Russian high-spending impact will be most felt in Catalonia, which attracts more Russian tourists than other regions. In Tarragona, the tourism business federation says that Russia is the third most important foreign market after France and the UK.

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The war has come at the worst possible time for regions where the Russian market is strong or comparatively so - Valencia is another (Putin has been known to holiday on the Costa Blanca), the Balearics isn’t. But then there is in any event an issue with vaccination - the Sputnik vaccine isn’t recognised by the European Medicines Agency, and so travel is affected.

One does sympathise with Catalonia and Valencia, but fretting over a loss of high spend is a bit difficult to stomach given the circumstances. In general terms, the direct impact of Russian tourism being wiped out completely isn’t that significant. In 2019, Spain attracted 1.3 million Russian tourists (out of a total of 83.7 million foreign tourists). Covid reduced this to 134,000 in 2021. Data analyst figures point to 123,000 seats on direct flights to Spain having been scheduled between February 24 and August 24. So in truth, the impact is minimal.

More concerning are the psychological effects on travellers and the costs of travel. The president of the CEHAT national confederation of hotelier associations, Jorge Marichal, is just one who has pointed to how costs will be affected, while he has also referred to a tendency for travellers to hesitate in making decisions when there is conflict.

Travel agency associations in Spain accept that countries closest to the conflict will be affected the most (a statement of the obvious, one would think) but also point to how there has in the past been a psychological fear among travellers in general. This was the case, for example, at the time of the war in Iraq.

But right now, and as was the situation with Covid (still is?), we are in the realms of the unknown that make forecasting like guesswork. Maria Frontera of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation sums it up better than most. Bookings at present are very good, but there is uncertainty because of the conflict, there are price increases, there could still be another shock from the pandemic. Given these, forecasts can simply “vanish”. Quite.