RECOVERING the British tourism market is essential and must be made a priority.
That’s the opinion of Jose Luis Zoreda, vice president of the Spanish travel agency association Exceltur.
Speaking to El Mundo, the holiday boss blasted the 14-day quarantine currently in place for any foreigner landing in the country.
“It doesn’t help saying the quarantine will be lifted in July, because it could be in July 1 or 31, and that is a difference worth tens of billions of euros,” he said, adding that the sector needs at least a month and a half to prepare.
“To the man from Birmingham who wants to go to the Balearic Islands, you have to tell him in advance what he can do,” he said, “First we have to communicate it to the British agencies and then they have to send him that information.”
Of the roughly €73 billion brought in by tourism each year, €40 billion comes from foreign tourists.
And of the 80 million tourists, at least 18 million are from the UK, the worst hit EU country in terms of COVID-19.
For Zoreda, matters have only been made worse after it was suggested that there would be no holidays in Spain this summer.
“The method of communicating the quarantine was not great,” he said, “because in the British newspapers, as well as those in the whole of Europe, the message was that ‘Spain does not want tourists this simmer’, which has been devastating for us…we saw cancellations triple and in some cases quadruple in the ensuing 48 hours.”
British tourists alone bring some €8.5 billion to the country each summer, mostly across the islands, Catalunya, Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol.
So how will Spain open to Brits as soon as possible?
Countries across the continent have already begun discussing the creation of travel corridors.
These would be bilateral agreements which would allow for the travel of people between two destinations with similar incidences of COVID-19.
Spanish government officials have already revealed they want to negotiate a framework at the EU level, including with the UK, but ‘time is running out every single day and we still don’t have a plan,’ says Zoreda.
British ambassador Hugh Elliot told El Mundo: “The announcement by the President of the Spanish Government opens the doors to the arrival of international tourists from July, and I wish the British could come: this is a wonderful country and much loved by my compatriots.
“However, today, both the Spanish and British governments recommend not travelling abroad; there is a 14-day quarantine for those arriving in Spain from abroad and, from June 8, and for at least three weeks, there will also be a quarantine for those arriving in the United Kingdom.
“I hope that tourism will return as soon as possible in both directions, because I understand how important it is for the economy and employment, and of course the two governments talk regularly about the different aspects related to this very terrible pandemic. Still, it will be necessary to advance step by step, because the most important thing is the safety of all.”
Zoreda added that if a national agreement between the UK and Spain cannot be agreed, then why not on a provincial or regional level?
“Madrid or London may have higher levels of risk, but why not establish a safe corridor, for example, between Mallorca and Birmingham? That is just one example, but the British market is essential for Spain’s coastal tourism.”