MADRID – As of today, February 11, the UK government lifts all travel restrictions on fully vaccinated people. Therefore, travel experts expect bookings to soar. However, Spain lagged behind in the race to attract holiday-hungry British tourists.
The Spanish government required Britons over the age of 12 to present a full vaccination certificate. The second vaccine had to have been carried out at least 14 days before arriving in Spain. However, in the case of adolescents, it appeared to be a more difficult requirement to meet. This is because they have been the last to receive the doses in the UK. Therefore, this was putting a brake on reservations. Especially in family tourism, and in the face of Semana Blanca (half-term holidays in the United Kingdom).
Faced with this situation, the hotel management associations throughout Spain, as well as the main tourism ministers of some autonomous communities, are demanding the Spanish government to eliminate this requirement. After a long tug-of-war, today Moncloa communicated working on a ministerial order to allow the entry of British teenagers. The Government will publish this today (Friday) in the Official State Gazette. Supposedly it will come into force on Saturday, according to Spanish media.
The Hotel Business Federation of Mallorca (FEHM) and the Association of Hotel Chains (ACH) had insisted that “it is a general clamour from the entire tourism sector at the national level. They call on the central government to once and for all abandon inaction”. Its executive vice president, María José Aguiló, stressed that “every day that passes without this situation being resolved, competing destinations are gaining ground.” She also called for recovery and business opportunities in the British market not to be lost.
For months, Jorge Marichal, president of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (Cehat) and of the Hotel and Non-Hotel Association of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro (Ashotel), has stressed that the requirement for guidelines in adolescents is greatly damaging the hotel sector, especially in the Canary Islands. This same week he quantified in a BBC program “the loss could be almost €400 million in the Canary Islands”.
From the Federation of Hospitality and Tourism of Las Palmas (FEHT), they recalled that, given the obstacles imposed on trips to Spain, the English “now look to other competing destinations such as Turkey or Mexico”.
Likewise, the Minister of Tourism of the Government of the Canary Islands, Yaiza Castilla, said to Cadena SER: “the situation with the United Kingdom is unfortunate.” She also said not to like a solution of the situation in March. Then, the Canary Islands already have to face great competition in the market. After all, the high season in the Canary Islands is from October to March.
The Federation of Hotels and Tourism of Tarragona (FEHT) indicated the importance of this market. And, subsequently, asked the Government of Spain to act urgently. “We cannot afford a third year without British families on the Costa Daurada. We understand that we are coming out of the sixth wave and that there are still restrictions. However, the requirement of double vaccination for British adolescents aged 12 to 18 makes it impossible for them to come. Therefore, we urge the Spanish government to replace it with a negative test. Other countries in Europe do the same”, highlighted its president Berta Cabré.
Hosbec, the Hotel and Tourism Business Association of the Valencian Community, proposed the option of a negative diagnostic test as a requirement to allow British adolescents to enter the country. “All these thousands of reservations from British families who cannot enter Spain now go to other competing destinations that have conveniently relaxed their restrictions: Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt are being the great beneficiaries”, they warned.