BENIDORM is pleading to be left out of the UK’s new 14-day quarantine rule for Brits returning home to the UK from Spain.
On Saturday, the UK government removed Spain from the country’s “safe” list of countries to travel to, enforcing a two-week quarantine at the last minute.
Brits are now advised against travelling to Spain, and will have to self-isolate when returning to the UK as new cases of coronavirus cases in Spain surge.
Benidorm, a massive favourite with British tourists, says its number one priority at the moment is to campaign for the order to be lifted.
The mayor of Benidorm, Toni Pérez says he is loath to see preferential treatment for individual Spanish destinations but he insists the city is one of the regions where the potential spread of coronavirus is under control.
“The British tourist is essential for the recovery and maintenance of a tourist activity that is developing as planned from Benidorm, since the rate of reservations, due to the projection of the destination and the confidence generated in the British market was on the rise, ” he said.
“Benidorm has worked very hard from minute one of this situation to develop protocols and security measures for residents and tourists.”
The mayor said they wanted the immediate cancellation of the UK’s quarantine rule and the setting up of a safe air bridge route to the Costa Blanca.
Benidorm says it shouldn’t be discriminated against in favour of the holiday islands of the Canaries and the Balearics which are also pressing for the quarantine to be lifted.
Balearic Islands’ government chiefs said overnight they were pinning their hopes on establishing ‘safe air corridors’ with the UK to save their summer season and the holiday hopes of thousands of Brits.
It is hoped that the quarantine for both the Balearic and Canary Islands will be lifted by next week, with a government source claiming they are “considering an exemption” for them.
The hotel association for Benidorm and Valencia (HOSBEC) has described the UK’s decision as a sledgehammer and like “a jug of ice water” being poured over them.
In a statement, they said: “It is a blow, We had good feelings for the next few weeks, with reservations that were growing and although they were far from what would be normal at this time of year, we expected them to normalise facing the month of September and October.
“Many hotels in the city of Benidorm, in which British tourism is the main international market with a 40 per cent share of the total, were scheduled to open in the coming days, precisely in this growth trend of British tourists.
“From HOSBEC it is observed with disbelief how the extraordinary effort made by all of society and the entire Spanish economy has been thrown overboard in just one month, once again catching the political and health authorities with its foot changed and without reacting to time to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control again.
“The decision of the British Government joins the one that was expressed yesterday by countries that are also very important for Spanish and Valencian tourism in particular, such as France (not advising to travel through Catalonia, an obligatory step for arrival in the Valencian Community), Belgium or Norway that it has also imposed mandatory quarantine.”
“Tourism businessmen ask for urgent and effective measures to control infections and if it is necessary to help a specific sector to keep it inactive, it is preferable to find ourselves facing a new general confinement and another state of alarm.
“The sector will begin to reevaluate from the situation that has occurred adjusting all the promotion strategies that were being launched and that had the United Kingdom as one of the main investments.
“Likewise, adjustments will almost certainly take place both in the opening of hotels and in the air operations scheduled for the entire month of August.
“But we are sure that the damage to tourism will be, once again, very serious.”
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya hit back at the quarantine, saying “Spain is a safe country for tourists and for Spaniards” as she tried to save the country’s tourist industry from collapse during the coronavirus pandemic.