Spanish tourism chiefs say they want to give Brits ‘priority’ amid mounting fury from the travel industry and European leaders at the ‘unworkable’ plan to put holidaymakers in a 14-day isolation when they return from their trip.
Influential tourist group Exceltur has said that UK sunseekers are vital to Spain‘s chances of a strong summer season and will be given priority in a safe ‘air corridor’ to lure them back to the Costas this summer.
It comes just days after Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez to put the UK at the top of his list of target countries in talks aimed at reaching bilateral ‘safe corridor’ swaps.
But ministers were under mounting pressure last night to ditch tough new quarantine rules that will make it very difficult for Britons to take holidays overseas.
People enjoy a morning out at La Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona today as the country slowly loosens a strict coronavirus lockdown
Tourist hotspots including Italy, Spain and Greece plan to open their borders to visitors fully this summer.
But under plans announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, anyone arriving into the UK after June 8 – including returning holidaymakers – will have to self-isolate for 14 days or face fines of £1,000, making it impractical for most Britons to take a foreign break.
Last night the Government faced a chorus of protest from business leaders and former Tory and Labour Cabinet Ministers alike, urging a rethink because of the damage to the travel industry.
The Mail on Sunday understands that airlines have submitted papers to the Government warning that the quarantine will wreak painful economic damage on Britain and cause more job losses unless UK borders are opened to low-risk countries ‘no later than mid-June’.
Mr Sanchez sent out his clearest message yet Spain was getting ready to welcome back as many of its 80 million visitors each year by telling foreign tourists on Saturday: ‘We’ll be waiting for you from July.’
People play beach volley at La Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona today. The country is getting ready to welcome tourists back
He told a live televised address yesterday: ‘Spain receives each year more than 80 million visitors.
‘That’s why I’m announcing to you that from the month of July the entry of international tourism to Spain will restart in safety.
‘Foreign tourists can now start planning their holidays here.’
He laid the ground for bilateral agreements with other countries like Spain who are easing out of lockdown after beginning to win the war on Covid-19 by stressing ‘safety in origin and destination’ and insisting: ‘We will guarantee that tourists will be under no risk and also that they won’t bring any risks.’
The next few days will see intense negotiations between ministers of leading EU nations about the ‘safe corridor’ plans and how they could be put in practice if the health situation in target countries continues to improve.
Pedro Sanchez Sanchez sent out his clearest message yet Spain was getting ready to welcome back as many of its 80 million visitors each year by telling foreign tourists on Saturday: ‘We’ll be waiting for you from July’
Exceltur’s vice-president Jose Luis Zoreda called the Spanish PM’s speech ‘very positive.’
He said: ‘This kickstarts British and German tour operators because they now know they can operate in July if all goes well.’
Telling Catalan daily El Periodico that Britain, which accounted for more than 18 million of Spain’s foreign tourists last year, and Germany should be priority countries in the ‘safe corridor’ negotiations, he added:
‘The speech Pedro Sanchez made was very positive because he committed to a date with enough time for potential tourists to book holidays here, and because of the message it sends that the Prime Minister of a country is welcoming back foreign visitors.
‘The common denominator will not be nationality but the corridors.’
Saying he thought it was unlikely EU-wide agreements on re-opening borders could be reached by July, he added: ‘We have to get going to establish these bilateral corridors and agreements.’
Many Spanish town halls have already indicated social distancing through limits on the number of tourists who can enjoy their beaches, will be top of their list of priorities.
The Costa del Sol resort of Fuengirola has said it will use artificial intelligence to control numbers.
Authorities in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava have said they intend to put different age groups in different areas of their beaches.
Travellers entering Spain are currently being forced to quarantine for 14 days but the order will be lifted when the country ends its current state of emergency at the end of June at the latest unless there is a dramatic change in the health situation.
Additional measures like temperature checks at airports for foreign tourists who jet to Spain in July are also being studied.
Juan Marin, vice-president of the Junta de Andalucia which is the regional government responsible for areas like the Brit-popular Costa del Sol, insisted today/yesterday (SUN) rapid Covid-19 tests on foreign tourists could be the way forward for the recovery of the International holiday market.
He told a Spanish radio station the country had to compete on a level playing field with competitor nations like Portugal and Italy, warning: ‘If we miss out this summer, we’ll be facing a frozen winter.’
Teresa Ribera, one of the Spanish government’s vice-presidents, has said ‘safe corridors’ will ‘probably’ be applied along the same lines as peoples’ movements between regions as part of a national tourism scheme.
Source: Daily Mail – Articles