The protests unleashed in Cuba are the last variable in a complicated equation for Meliá Hotels marked by the pandemic. The hotel chain has 32 establishments on the island, which represents 16.8% of its total current portfolio . Of them, according to the company, it keeps 9 closed due to restrictions derived from the pandemic and the lack of tourism in the country.
So far this week, the company chaired by Gabriel Escarrer has left 5.1% on the stock market , although the situation in Cuba is the tip of the iceberg of what is happening. In Europe, the consequences of the Delta variant , which is spreading like wildfire among the population, and mainly the fact that the infection rate in Spain – its main market, with 42.2% of the group’s available rooms – They have made a dent in its price.
Our country has been placed on the list of regions in the red zone for the European Union and governments of the first two countries that emit tourists, such as the United Kingdom and Germany , again advise against traveling to Spain.
“It is still too early to determine the impact of the protests of the citizens on the island. However, we believe that in the very short term reservations to the island will be slowed down until there is more clarity on the situation. Meliá has almost 14,000 rooms on the island, all under the management regime.
The rooms in Cuba account for 38% of all those that Meliá has under management and 17% of the total rooms “, points out Iván San Félix, Income 4 analyst. Yesterday, the Meliá’s share price plunged another 1.6% in its third consecutive session of declines and lost 6 euros per share for the first time since February.
The Cuban population is leading these days in the largest marches against the regime since the 1990s, which became known as the maleconazo-in relation to the famous Malecón in Havana- that occurred during the Special Period. Another crisis that unleashed the anger of the Cuban people at the scarcity and poverty that, at that time, occurred after the dismantling of the USSR (Russia continues to be a clear ally of the Castro regime) and the tightening of the economic blockade maintained by the United States, with ups and downs since then.
On this occasion, the trigger was the crisis caused by the pandemic. Official data reflect a contagion rate of more than 300 people per 100,000 inhabitants and some 1,300 Cubans have died – again, according to the Government. Regarding vaccination, 13.4% of the population -1.5 million people- would have already received one of the two vaccines that the Government is developing, Soberana-02 and Abdala.
The situation for Meliá there is critical considering the weight of the country in its hotel portfolio. At the end of March, the occupancy of rooms in Cuba was 12.1%, below 19.7% of the total for the group. At the end of 2020, this percentage was 33.4% and 50.7% when compared to 2019, the pre-pandemic year. Regarding the return per room (RevPar, for the sector) it stood at 8.7 euros in March, half that at the group level.
Tourism loses 3%
When it seemed that the summer of 2021 would bring the recovery of the tourism sector with it, the Delta variant has put European firms in check. It is the most bearish sector in Europe so far this week, losing almost 3%, and from the highs in June, 8.8%. Only yesterday the tour operator TUI fell 7%, followed by the easyJet airlines that fell 4.3%, and Deutsche Lufthansa, down another 1.8%. IAG lost 1.1%.