Industry uproar as Spain is declared a no-go again
by Laura Gelder
Just three weeks after the UK government published its list of countries exempt from the ban on non-essential travel, Spain was removed this weekend making it a no-go destination again.
On Saturday (July 25) it was announced that Brits arriving in the UK from Spain, including the country’s Balearic and Canary islands, would, from midnight that night, have to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return and the FCO updated its website to again advise against non-essential travel to mainland Spain.
Following the shock announcement, the FCO followed up on Monday (July 27) with the news that the Canary and Balearic Islands would join mainland Spain in the exclusion zone.
While ABTA acknowledged that protecting public health was a priority, the industry body criticised the lack of information released by the government regarding “the precise criteria or infection rates being used to determine policy positions,” which is said would "make it impossible for travel businesses to make more effective business decisions”.
A spokesperson added: “The announcements by the government relating to travel to and from Spain have major financial implications for travel businesses that are already under significant pressure. The costs associated with stopping and starting operations are considerable, and businesses need to be able to plan ahead with more conviction."
ABTA urged the Government to move towards a regional approach to its quarantine policy.
AITO was even more damning in its response asking: “How on earth does our government make its quarantine decisions?”
Chairman of AITO Chris Rowles pointed out that COVID-19 stats show Spain is far below the UK when it comes to the percentage of deaths per head of population, criticised the government’s lack of engagement with the travel industry and said it had “egg on its face” as a result.
Rowles added: “By constantly hiding behind sweeping statements about ‘following the science’, without supplying travel industry experts, amongst others, with a firm rationale and allowing the travel industry to discuss it with them, the government is going down the wrong route in connection with air corridors and quarantine.”
President of the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association (SPAA), Joanne Dooey, commented: "Travel agents have faced a torrid time since lockdown and whilst bookings are steady for 2021, the sector has been massively affected. Agents have worked tirelessly to rebook holidays for their clients. Tonight's news means that they will be rebooking their clients now for a second or third time."
Sergio Zertuche, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer of Palladium Hotel Group, which has hotels in Ibiza, Tenerife and mainland Spain, said the decision would have a detrimental impact on the Spanish tourism and hotel sector: “We were hopeful that visitors returning from the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands would be excluded from the mandatory quarantine, so we are surprised and disappointed that the FCO advice against all but essential travel has been updated to now include the whole of Spain."
Jet2holidays was among the operators which announced it would suspend flights and holidays - to mainland Spain up to and including August 16 and to Spain’s islands up to and including August 9.
The BBC reported that a government source had indicated talks are under way with Spain about easing quarantine rules for the Balearic and Canary Islands.