HOPE has been injected back into the Balearic tourism industry thanks to the announcement that a COVID-19 vaccine could be rolled out next year.
Developers Pfizer and BioNTech said its drug against the virus was more than 90% effective – a major victory against the disease that has killed more than a million people and devastated the global economy.
Government spokesperson Pilar Costa called the breakthrough ‘a light at the end of a very dark tunnel,’ pledging that ‘at the minimum, the vulnerable and healthcare professionals would be protected by May.’
Minister of Tourism Iago Negueruela also voiced his hopes for a successful 2021 season, with British travellers being the key to its revival.
Speaking at the World Travel Market he said: “We have every faith in a recovery for the British market which is so important for our islands.
“For us, 2021 begins today and marks the beginning of how we intend to bring tourism back to the Balearic Islands.”
The Balearic Islands are among the worst hit in Spain, ranking highest for unemployment in the entire country with its GDP falling by a historic 40.5% in the second quarter of 2020.
These bleak statistics were attributed to the region’s undeniable reliance on tourism which had taken a battering this year.
The news on the drug’s high efficacy has since been celebrated by the Balearic government and business leaders after 10 months of growing uncertainty.
Hotelier Gabriel Escarrer was delighted with the virus announcement after his hotel chain Melia experienced a historic rise of 37% on the Spanish stock market on Monday.
The Executive Vice President and CEO declared the vaccine as ‘the announcement of the century’ that would ‘be the saviour of the tourism industry’.
Mallorcan hotel group RIU echoed this view, with its CEO Luis Riu stating that ‘it was the news we were waiting for’ and will have ‘great implications at an economic level for the tourism sector.’
President of the Mallorca Hotel Federation (FEHM), María Frontera, said the news ‘had been well received’ by their members.
She did however warn that ‘even if the vaccine is rolled out, it will not reach the entire population immediately’ and that ‘protocols must be put in place to fight the virus.’
“We need controls at ports and airports, PCR tests at origin and tracing through technological applications,” said Frontera.
One of these calls has already been answered by the Spanish government, which announced on Wednesday that all travellers arriving in Spain from November 23 will have to present a negative PCR coronavirus test.
This test must be performed within the previous 72 hours before arrival and will be checked at land, sea and air borders.