Local tourism boss calls for Costa del Sol to be included in Spanish government's negotiations to set up safe travel corridors with UK

Tourists at Malaga Airport.
Tourists at Malaga Airport. / FRANCIS SILVA
  • Authorities and hoteliers have expressed their dismay at the British government's decision to impose 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving from Spain

This weekend Malaga Airport was celebrating reaching the figure of 200 flights a day, an important milestone in the Costa del Sol's road to recovery after the Covid-19 crisis,

The industry's optimism was shortlived, however, as on Saturday night the British's government's decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on all travellers arriving from Spain came as a heavy blow.

No sooner had the news been released, TUI, one of the world's leading tour operators, announced the cancellation of all package holidays from the UK to mainland Spain until 9 August.

One of the biggest victims on the Costa del Sol is the Holiday World group, due on Sunday to receive 150 British tourists who never arrived. CEO of the hotel arm of the group, Mari Francis Peñarroya, said that TUI had informed them of the decision to cancel just an hour after the British government's statement on Saturday and that the news meant they would have to rethink the entire summer as they were due to receive the passengers of two flights a week throughout August.

"The situation is really tough; we hope things will be better in September and we can recover something of what we've lost," she said.

Sunday also saw the postponement of the filming of an episode of the CNN programme Quest's World of Wonder due to take place on Tuesday on the Costa del Sol.

Industry protests

Following the British government's announcement, on the grounds that the number of Covid-19 cases was increasing in Spain, the regional and provincial tourism authorities stressed on Sunday that the spread of the virus was under control on the Costa del Sol and in Andalucía.

The Costa del Sol tourism authority, Turismo Costa del Sol, called for a safe travel corridor between the UK and Andalucía, similar to the ones the Spanish government is negotiating for the Canaries and Balearics.

In a letter sent to Spain's Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, the organisation's president, Francisco Salado, called on Monday for the Costa del Sol Airport to be included in all the negotiations with the UK government to establish safe travel corridors excluded from the quarantine obligation.

Salado went on to remind the central government of the importance of British toruism for the Costa del Sol, with the airport receiving around three million visitors from the Uk every year.

He also added that around 50,000 Britons live in the province of Malaga.

The organisation's president, Francisco Salado, said the decision was a "tremendous injustice" and blamed the Catalan government, saying it had not "done its homework". The leaders, he said, spend all day taking about self-government but then are not capable of managing their powers or working to curb the spread of the disease."

The vice-president of the Junta de Andalucia and regional minister for Tourism, Juan Marín, described the UK's decision to re-impose self-isolation on travellers from Spain as "very bad news" for the region. He said that the decision would have negative repercussions, especially for the Costa del Sol.

Hoteliers' reaction

The president of the Costa del Sol hoteliers association Aehcos, Luis Callejón, said on Sunday that now "the summer is dead" as far as they're concerned, and warned that the decision would cause many hotels to rethink their plans to open in August.

"We were getting bookings from the British, but now they've fallen to zero," he said.

Callejón admitted that the cancellation of TUI's package tours would be especially damaging for the Costa del Sol, as many establishments were relying on those clients to stay afloat. He also expressed his fears that the measure could lead to other countries such as Germany and France taking the same decision.

Restaurant and bar owners also expressed their dismay at the decision on Sunday. President of the association of beach business owners, Manuel Villafaina, said that the absence of British visitors would be especially noticed by the sunbed rental services.

Meanwhile British tourists already on the Costa del Sol, complained about the lack of official information about the restrictions waiting for them on arrival back home.

Many of them, as well as Spanish residents heading back to the UK, expressed their concerns about the self-isolation requirement and how this would affect their work.