AFTER months of staying at home, most of us are dreaming of getting away, as long as we can stay safe. 

While the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic seems to have passed its peak in much of Western Europe,  uncertainty still remains about restrictions on travel and leisure activities for the rest of the year and beyond. As a result, lots of people have put off booking holidays until now, but that looks set to change very quickly.

Spain has declared the country will reopen to tourists from July 1, welcome news for visitors and all those whose livelihoods depend on tourism. The sector accounts for around 12% of Spain’s GDP and employs millions directly and indirectly, especially in places like the Costa del Sol. The last few months have been particularly hard for local businesses and people, many of which need summer income to survive year-round.

Although France and Portugal are going to reopen their borders to tourists on June 22, anyone entering Spain will still be subject to a 14-day quarantine period until the end of the month. However, as from June 15, approximately 11,000 German tourists will be permitted to travel to the Balearic Islands to test out the safety measures already in place at airports, hotels and other destinations. 

The UK has recently introduced its own quarantine regime for people entering (and re-entering) the country from abroad. This requires all those arriving to do two weeks of self-isolation at a declared address, subject to possible check-ups from health authorities to ensure they are where they are supposed to be backed up by fines if they’re not. The controversial measure was expected to put off many Brits from venturing overseas this summer, but recent spikes in airline bookings suggest otherwise.

At the same time, popular holiday accommodation platforms, such as Airbnb, Booking and HomeAway, have begun to see a huge upturn in traffic after weeks of flat-lined demand. Most of the big online operators have made alterations to cancellation and refund policies since the pandemic began, trying to balance the interests of those who rely on their sites to book their vacations with those of the owners who provide the properties. My advice is choose carefully, don’t trust deals that sound too good and be 100% sure of who you are dealing with to prevent fraud.

So, if you’re planning to visit the Costa del Sol in the next few months, I’d recommend you reserve your travel and accommodation as soon as possible, but be sure you can modify or cancel and get a refund, if necessary. That means reading the small print in contractual terms and conditions before making payment and, where possible, preferring to use reputable and reliable providers and intermediaries. Taking out comprehensive insurance to cover any eventualities that could occur while you’re away is also a worthwhile investment.

Whatever you decide to do and wherever you choose to go this summer, whether it be to stay at home or enjoy a holiday abroad, don’t forget to wash your hands, observe social distancing rules and keep safe!

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