BRITS have been warned that holidays abroad this summer are ‘very likely’ to be cancelled.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock broke the potentially devastating news for Spain during an appearance on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday.
“We haven’t made a final decision… but it is unlikely that big, lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer,” he told hosts Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield.
The move, if confirmed, would be a huge blow for the Spanish tourism industry, with the costas heavily reliant on the tens of millions of British tourists who visit every summer.
Some 12% of the country’s GDP is from tourism, while locally in Andalucia and Alicante it is around 15%.
The revelation by Hancock came just hours after Spain announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international travellers arriving from May 15 – the same measure announced by the UK on Monday.
It would mean visitors having to stay inside their accommodation for two weeks, before having to quarantine once again when arriving back to the UK.
“It will most likely continue throughout the de-escalation period,” confirmed Health Minister Salvador Illa. This could run into July.
For those without second homes and who don’t plan on staying for months at a time, it makes a trip to Spain practically impossible in the short term.
The announcement caused Andalucia vice president Juan Marin to insist that international tourism is now effectively ‘dead’ this summer.
“With the announcement of the quarantine, international tourism has practically died,” he insisted.
“Nobody is going to come if you have to spend a vacation in a room for 14 days.”
Leading expat hotel boss Mark Wardell, of Sunset Beach, in Benalmadena, told the Olive Press: “About 30% of the Costa del Sol relies on tourism and that can be as much as 50% in places like Torremolinos and Fuengirola.
“If the planes don’t fly from the UK this will be a disaster for the region.”
There was a glimmer of hope, with Ryanair announcing that it would be restarting around 40% of its flights across Europe from July 1.
Flying out of 80 bases, their destinations and the probability of them filling up will depend on agreements between countries.
The UK has already confirmed, for example, that quarantine measures will not apply to those travelling from France or Ireland and there will be considerable lobbying by the Spanish tourism industry and airlines over the next few weeks.
Germany is studying an agreement with Mallorca, while a corridor is already set to open up between the Czech Republic and Croatia, taking in Austria and Germany.
It would be a massive blow for Andalucia if the usual British influx does not happen in July and August.
Brits represent 21.6% of the foreign tourists coming to Spain each year, contributing the lion’s share of the €92 billion raked in by the industry in 2019.
Currently, people flying into Spain must be either returning citizens or residents or have a justified reason for doing so. It is not yet known when Spain’s borders will be reopened to international tourism.
While officially the land and sea borders are to remain closed until May 24, that is likely to be extended for another two weeks (until June 8).