Passengers arriving at the Costa del Sol Airport. / SALVADOR SALAS

High hopes for Costa del Sol tourism boost as UK simplifies Covid travel rules

The red-amber-green traffic light system has been dropped this week and coronavirus testing requirements for people entering England have been eased eased

Pilar Martínez

The UK's coronavirus red-amber-green traffic light system for travel has been replaced this week by a single red list and a "rest of world" group formed by countries currently on the green and amber lists.

Covid travel requirements for people entering England have also been simplified. Fully vaccinated travellers entering England from countries not on the red list - including Spain - no longer have to take a pre-departure test. They do still have to take a PCR test two days after arrival in England, although the UK's Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that later in October this requirement will be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test.

The end of these restrictions should give a boost to the tourist sector on the Costa del Sol with hopes that it will mark a mass arrival of British holidaymakers and lead to an extension of the high season in Malaga province.

Airline seats

Data from Costa del Sol Tourism shows that the airlines are also expecting a rebound in British tourism in the last few months of the year, with some 776,824 seats on offer to Malaga in the last third of the year, higher than the 727,617 between July and September, a period when departures were subject to updates to the traffic light system, which could change travel requirements if a country went from the green list to the amber or the red list, and quarantine was imposed upon return from the trip.

The United Kingdom is, by far, the main international source market for holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol, and the tourism sector is confident that it will be a key driver for the destination until the end of the year. The Netherlands is the second-placed country offering air capacity with 206,964 seats. National tourism and flights from other Spanish airports will offer a total of 574,012 seats to Malaga, some 119 per cent more than last year.

'We have been waiting a long time'

The vice-president of the Junta de Andalucía and regional Minister of Tourism, Juan Marín, has applauded "the return" of British tourism in Andalucía after the decision of the United Kingdom to eliminate the obligation to present a negative PCR on the return trip from the beginning of October.

"We are so happy to receive them, we've been waiting a long time. Their average spend is much higher than national [Spanish] tourists, with longer overnight stays, so it is positive news for the economy," said Marín.