THE regional Valencian government is pulling out all the stops to boost British tourism to the area this summer.
Tourism department chief Francesc Colomer yesterday (Wednesday April 21) held an online meeting with British consul to Spain, Sarah-Jane Morris, to request equal treatment for the autonomous community than the one given to the Balearic and Canary Islands.
More specifically, Colomer called for the famous ‘traffic light’ system launched by the British government to indicate whether an area is COVID-safe or not to be established for each individual region instead of the country as a whole.
The British government has unveiled plans to grant green, yellow or red colours to each holiday destination this summer, with travellers required to undergo different safety precautions upon returning to the UK.
Those flying back from a green area need only present a negative pre-travel test and have a PCR check around day two upon arrival, while anyone returning from an amber zone will be obliged to do the above, plus a second PCR test on day eight and go into home quarantine for 10 days – or have an additional PCR on day five.
Anyone returning to Britain from an area marked in red will have to present a negative pre-travel test and take PCRs on days two and eight, plus go into controlled quarantine at a government-overseen hotel for 10 days at the traveller’s expense – with average single-adult stays reportedly costing more than £1,700.
The Valencian tourism chief specifically mentioned the Costa Blanca area of Alicante Province, a major international hotspot for British holidaymakers and residents.
Before the pandemic, coastal areas of Alicante such as Denia, Javea, Benidorm and Torrevieja combined welcomed an average of three million UK travellers each year, added to the province’s estimated 70,000 British residents.
Alicante currently has the best COVID figures in the country, with 28.5 cases per 100,000 inhabitants compared to 62 in the Balearic Islands and 137 in the Canaries.
The Valencian Community has a total average of 40 cases for every 100,000 people, while Spain as a whole numbers 250.
This would mean that the Valencia region would be given a green light, while Spain would be classed as amber and require returning travellers to quarantine – which could have a dissuasive effect on potential visitors.
Colomer, in his virtual meeting with Morris, called for the region not to be ‘penalised’ by worse figures elsewhere in Spain when it comes to establishing the area’s safety level.
The Balearic and Canary Islands are measured independently from the rest of Spain by the UK government, which tourism experts believe gives these areas an unfair advantage over the Valencian Community.
In addition, the Generalitat has applied for the region to be included in the project for COVID-safe air travel routes, and all eyes now are on the airlines and travel agents themselves to pressure Boris Johnson’s executive into making the categories more area-specific than in 2020.
Major flight companies have announced plans to reopen most major routes as of May, with tens of thousands of tickets going on sale for next month linking Alicante, Valencia and Castellon with national and international airports.
Meanwhile, hospitality union Hosbec has set up a new system to provide travel agents with up-to-date weekly reports on the COVID situation in the Valencia region to further highlight the good work being done to keep the pandemic under control and make the Costa Blanca a safe holiday destination again this year.