Britons may be able to return to Tenerife for holidays in a matter of weeks according to local tourism insiders. The decision would be dependent on whether the islands are able to establish coronavirus tests which are said to give results in a matter of minutes.
Hotel leaders say they are working with various laboratories as they want tourists to be tested before they leave the UK and on arrival in the Canary Islands.
The new rapid test would also apply to all other holidaymakers, including Germans who, together with the Brits, are the islands’ main markets.
Much like the UK, Germany is also advising against travel to the Canaries and have imposed a quarantine on travellers’ return.
The decision is said to have hit the Canary Island tourism hard, consequently impacting the one in eight Spanish workers employed in the sector.
However, tourism chiefs in Tenerife and the rest of the islands are hopeful the order could be lifted following the announcement by the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps that destinations will be looked at on an individual basis, rather than as a country as a whole.
In an interview, Canary Islands Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalaz Laya said the decision sparked new hope for the winter holiday season being salvaged.
“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,” Gonzalez Laya said told RNE radio.
“It is important for the Canary archipelago which benefits from winter tourism.”
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She added that further negotiations would take place between the Islands and the UK Government.
Hopes are particularly high that Tenerife will be singled out as a safe destination with a high level of coronavirus safety rules in place.
President of Ashotel, the hotel association for Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, Jorge Marichal said they were working hard with public administrations and tour operators to develop safe tourist corridors in the Canary Islands “in the coming weeks”.
The regional government is even offering free insurance policies which would cover the costs of a holidaymaker if they caught coronavirus when on holiday in the Canaries.
“Ashotel has been working with various laboratories in the implementation of new rapid tests that will make it known in a few minutes if a tourist is positive and be able to proceed accordingly with the protocol that is being worked on,” said Mr Marichall.
“We have been saying for a long time that we are willing to pitch in and contribute to the solution to the complicated situation that the incidence of this pandemic has left us in the tourism panorama.
“The protocol includes that the tests are carried out both upon the arrival of visitors and upon departure so that they have the assurance that they return healthy to their countries of origin.”
In order for plans to go ahead, however, he stressed it was vital for the island to control the trend of infections or “the immense effort that we are carrying out in a coordinated way with public administrations and the main tour operators will be of no use.”
Coronavirus infections in the Canaries are currently on a downward trend, with the number of new positives on Tuesday falling to 178, the first time for 15 days that the figure has been below 200.
Since the start of the pandemic, 187 people have died in the islands, of which 25 have been in the last month.
Around 9,400 people in the Canaries have contracted the virus.
The majority of new infections are being recorded in Gran Canaria.
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot.
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