THE Canary Islands have announced a record number of new coronavirus cases, denting hopes for a possible travel corridor between Tenerfie, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and the UK.
Health chiefs in the holiday islands said 367 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the crisis to 6,809.
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Gran Canaria capital Las Palmas and Santa Cruz in Tenerife registered the highest number of new cases, although Lanzarote also confirmed a sharp rise with 41 new cases.
The Canary Islands situation is worrying because unlike mainland Spain it is gearing up for what would be normally be its high season.
The current situation means the region’s hopes of being included in safe air corridors with the UK, even if mainland Spain continues to be excluded from a ‘green’ list, will be dented for the foreseeable future.
The news comes as hoteliers have urged the country’s tourism minister to put an emergency plan in place to save its holiday industry based around obligatory coronavirus tests.
There are calls for anyone holidaying in Spain to take a Covid test twice – once at start of trip and again before they head home.
Hotel and tourism accommodation association CEHAT says Covid-19 testing on tourists must form a keystone of the action plan.
Jorge Marichal is president of the association, which represents more than 16,000 businesses, and he said: “We can’t improvise measures. The survival of the Spanish tourist sector is at stake.
“If the EU doesn’t oblige tourists to take Covid-19 tests when they leave their home countries, we need to have them in place when they arrive."
He added: “What we’re proposing is that if tourists reaching Spain cannot guarantee through a coronavirus test carried out a maximum of 48 hours before their trip that they are not free of coronavirus, they should be tested in the first Spanish airport they set foot in.
“This test should be paid for by the holidaymaker.
“When they finish their holiday and before returning home, they should be tested again to guarantee they are free of Covid-19.
“This new test should be paid for jointly by hoteliers and their guests.”
Tourism accounts for more than 12 per cent of Spain’s GDP, although in some areas such as the Brit-popular Costa del Sol it represents around 30 per cent.
CEHAT wants Spanish Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto to create an inter-ministerial commission with the country’s regional leaders to establish the emergency plan.
The association went public with its proposals to put Spain on track for a better 2021, as figures released today show a total of 12,068 hotels in Spain decided to open for business in July, while nearly 5,000 stayed shut.
They revealed a drop of nearly 30 per cent nationwide in the number of hotels that opened in Spain in July last year.
In the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands, the drop was 60 per cent and 65 per cent respectively.
The figures for August are expected to be worse because of the effect of the decision of several European countries including the UK and Germany to advise against all but essential travel to Spain.
Mauricio Carballeda, president of the Palmanova-Magaluf Hotel Association, revealed Britain’s decision in late July to make holidaymakers returning from Spain quarantine for two weeks had an immediate effect.
He told local press at the start of August: “Of the 88 hotels in Palmanova and Magaluf, only 33 are open or were going to open.
“Now, after the UK announced its quarantine for returning British tourists, two of those hotels will close and three have said they won’t open. That leaves 28 hotels out of 88.
"The recent measures announced by the British government have made what was already a complicated and difficult year worse.”
Only a fifth of the hotels in Benidorm’s Brit-popular Rincon de Loix area were said to be open at the time.
The four-star Rio Park Hotel in the famous Costa Blanca resort, normally packed, with 70 per cent of Brits on package holidays, said it had decided to shut just six days after opening following the UK’s decision to take Spain off its ‘safe’ list.
Rio Park director Miguel Angel Correa told respected local paper Informacion on July 30: “We opened on Saturday morning and a few hours later the UK announced it was removing Spain from its list of safe countries.
“The same day several groups of British holidaymakers checked in but they were the first and the last.”
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