Malaga. A provisional date has been set for British holidaymakers to travel abroad again. As part of the UK government's roadmap out of lockdown, on Monday prime minister Boris Johnson announced 17 May as the day when leisure travel could resume. The UK government's Global Travel Taskforce will also reconvene to issue a report by 12 April recommending exactly how international trips can resume safely.
Naturally this news from the UK has come as a boost for the tourism industry on the Costa del Sol. President of the Tourism Council of the Andalusian Business Confederation (CEA), Miguel Sanchez, said that this has generated "enthusiasm and hope that companies can begin to recover activity and employment".
Raúl González, CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for the Barceló Hotel Group, also welcomed the news with cautious optimist: "My initial reaction was that having to wait until 17 May was bad news. However, the fact that they've put a date on it is good news. And if the UK takes off from there it will be very significant. We hope that the revival in the British market will be swift."
For Malaga airport, British tourism represents almost 30 per cent of travellers. A similar proportion applies for the hotel sector, which has been suffering since the end of July from the restrictions on British travel.
To this must be added the closure of Spain's borders with the three-month lockdown which last year sank the market. Data from the Costa del Sol tourist board shows that in 2020, 81 per cent fewer travellers from the UK arrived at Malaga Airport - a loss of 2.3 million visitors to the destination.
The vice-president of the Junta de Andalucía and the regional minister for Tourism, Juan Marín, was also positive this week.
He said there are "more than enough means" thanks to technology to promote safe tourism in the coming months despite the pandemic.
In an interview on Canal Sur Televisión, Marín went on to say, "The reasonable thing is that all those immunised with two doses against Covid-19 - and have a certificate to prove it - can travel."
He pointed out that within the European Union "we are working on a health card or certificate" and "we really have that possibility of reactivating tourism."