Growing calls by holiday destinations in Spain to test travellers for coronavirus at airports have been backed by the World Travel and Tourism Council.The Costa del Sol and Canary Islands, both hugely popular with Brits, are leading the way in their bid to safeguard people’s health and to persuade the UK government to lift its 14-day quarantine period for all tourists returning from Spain.
The holiday hotspots say urgent action has to be taken following a flood of cancellations from Brits who don’t want to face two weeks in isolation and the very real threat of bankruptcy for thousands of businesses involved in Spain’s tourist industry, from taxis and hire car companies to hotels, restaurants and pubs.
Their plea for coronavirus testing has been backed by the WTTC which today called upon governments around the world “to begin a substantial programme of investment to ensure comprehensive testing facilities are implemented at airports, which will help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and see the return of safe travels.” A statement issued by the Tourism Council said: “It is imperative that all airports, catering for international travel, implement globally recognised testing standards for both inbound and outbound passengers.
This will provide reassurance to all travellers, maintain ‘air corridors’ between countries, and remove damage and disruption caused by blunt quarantines which massively impact the recovery of the Travel & Tourism sector.””Removing the whole of Spain from the UK travel corridors exception list risks causing irreparable damage to the travel and tourism sector. It also makes no sense; while Spain as a whole, and Catalonia in particular, has a higher rate of coronavirus cases than then UK, the rate in Andalucía, the Balearics and Canaries is actually lower than the UK.””As part of the screening process, testing must involve temperature checks and swab tests for all arriving and departing passengers with results back within 24 hours, and only those testing positive – with or without symptoms – should be put into quarantine. Where there are apps to assist in effective Test & Trace regimes, passengers must be advised to sign up and use them. ” “We are going to have to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future so we must do all we can to protect public health and save lives, whilst restoring consumer confidence, driving the global economic recovery, and saving the jobs of millions of people whose very livelihoods depend upon a thriving Travel & Tourism sector.”The Canary Islands wanted from as early as March when the pandemic broke out to introduce testing for coronavirus at the airports but was unable to get it off the ground. At one stage, the Canary president Ángel Víctor Torres suggested public and private money could fund the tests or even the holidaymakers and/or travel agents and airlines themselves. He suggested it would cost about 20 euros.On Monday, the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations (CEHAT) offered to pay for Brits to take a coronavirus test before they left the UK.”This would offer greater security to customers staying in Spanish establishments,” said its president, Jorge Marichal.The Canary government says it is still working on the idea of tests and might be on the brink of being the first place to introduce them.And the Costa del Sol has joined in the call, fearing there could be a “domino effect” to the UK government’s quarantine decision and the subsequent suspension of thousands of flights and holiday packages to Spain.Business leaders say the situation has caused a national emergency and that the introduction of coronavirus tests at all airports would convey a new message of confidence and security for travellers.Cancellations on the Costa del Sol are being described as massive and 90 per cent of British bookings have been lost.Luis Callejon, president of the Costa del Sol hotel association, Aehcos, said: “The British market is one of our pillars and losing it means almost saying goodbye to the entire tourist season, which is something that we had been dreading for a long time. There may be hotels that finally do not open and others that are open and that decide to close. It is something that we will see in the coming days.”President of the Confederation of Entrepreneurs of Andalusia (CEA), Javier González de Lara said they have been asking for tests for two months at origin to detect possible cases of coronavirus before travelling.Across Spain, it’s estimated that 70 per cent of the reservations made by Brits have been cancelled since the UK government’s quarantine announcement last Friday.