HOLIDAYS to the Canary Islands may be able to resume as soon as October following the UK’s new quarantine restrictions which allow regional travel corridors.
Spain was placed onto the UK’s quarantine list on July 26, which affected both the Balearic and Canary Islands – the country currently has the highest cases in Europe at 534,513.
The islands, heavily reliant on tourism, particularly with British tourists, have seen deserted beaches and hotel resorts, leading to many closing for the season.
Foreign tourists visiting Spain fell 75 per cent in July from a year earlier.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said they had hopes that tourists may be able to return for their holidays to the Canaries this year.
While the winter tourism season is not as big as summer, it is still substantial – Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean are one of the few parts of any European country warm enough for beach holidays in winter as temperatures remain around 20C.
She told RNE radio: “The important thing is that there is a window of opportunity that did not exist before because the UK previously considered Spain as a whole.”
Adding that negotiations can now take place, she said: “It is important for the Canary archipelago which benefits from winter tourism.”
Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on Monday that London could now make decisions on whether to impose quarantines from incoming travellers on specific islands rather than on whole countries.
He explained: “Through the use of enhanced data we will now be able to pinpoint risk in some of the most popular islands, providing increased flexibility to add or remove them – distinct from the mainland – as infection rates change.
“This development will help boost the UK’s travel industry while continuing to maintain maximum protection to public health, keeping the travelling public safe.”
However, while this has been used for Greece, with seven Greek islands now on the quarantine list, he added this does not yet include Spain as numbers remain “too high” in the Balearics and Canaries.
Quash Quarantine spokesperson Paul Charles said he “welcomed” the decision by the government to offer regional islands corridors.
He told Sun Online Travel: “It’s great to see the government changing its quarantine strategy and potentially in the future that is really good news.”
In regards to Spain, he explained: “You’ve got to hope that the situation does get better by October in terms of case numbers reducing now that the crowds have gone back home. I’m hopeful that October will see these islands opening again.
“But I think there will be a lot of late booking – people will wait until the end of September or early October before booking a half term holiday.
“I still think there is a chance if you want a holiday, just wait a bit longer for the case numbers to come down and hope the islands manage to get their numbers down.”
Spain is still pushing for a European Union harmonisation of COVID-19 travel measures and for exemptions, Ms Gonzalez Laya said.
Spain has been calling unsuccessfully for such a harmonisation since lockdowns were eased all over Europe in May.
According to the Telegraph, the UK could face coronavirus tests or quarantines on arrival to EU countries from next year if the European Commission introduces new measures – or face a total entry ban.