THE Canary Islands are offering to pay for the rest of your holiday if you catch coronavirus while on holiday, including hotels, repatriation flights and testing.
The new travel policy will be managed by French insurer AXA and comes into effect immediately.
The Foreign Office removal of Spain from Britain’s ‘safe’ list of countries led to many Brits cancelling their Costa breaks over fears their policies would be invalid.
Canary Islands’ governors have intensified their campaign to persuade tourists to get on planes by becoming the first region to take out an insurance policy covering potential coronavirus-related costs.
The Canary Islands has been fighting for inclusion on a ‘safe’ air corridor list along with the Balearic Islands so British tourists can be spared two weeks of quarantine when they return to the UK.
Spain’s Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto has repeatedly called on Britain to give the country’s holiday hotspots more leeway after a spike in new coronavirus cases in Catalonia and Aragon, insisting UK tourists on the Costas would be safer than at home.
The Canary Islands’ Regional Tourism Minister Yaiza Castilla, announcing the insurance move, said: “We have once again shown we are a leader when it comes to health security and taken another step in the fight against coronavirus.”
“The insurance policy we’ve subscribed covers all tourists who come to our islands.
“It means all holidaymakers, Spanish or foreign, can have any costs related to coronavirus covered, whether it be for medicines, repatriation or costs linked to any quarantine.
“It’s the result of an agreement with the multinational insurance specialist AXA.”
She added: “We are the first autonomous community which will guarantee travel cover for Covid-19.
“We believe this will definitely help the islands’ economic recovery.”
The Canary Islands and Balearic Islands were initially excluded from the Foreign Office’s advice against all but non-essential travel to Spain following the British government’s shock quarantine decision nearly a fortnight ago.
But instead of putting in place the ‘safe’ air corridors the two island regions and other holiday hotspots like the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol were demanding because of their lower number of coronavirus cases, the UK stance was hardened and all of Spain declared a “risk” area.
The quarantine decision led to a wave of cancellations by British holidaymakers.
Less than a third of the hotels in Magaluf and the neighbouring resort of Palmanova are open at the moment.
Mauricio Carballeda, president of the Palmanova-Magaluf Hotel Association, revealed last week: “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.”
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The Canary Islands government says it reckons the fall in the number of tourists this year will exceed the 65 per cent mark.
The region has traditionally been a popular winter destination for British holidaymakers, with high season being December to March.
Cyprus also previously pledged to cover all costs for anyone who tests positive for coronavirus while on holiday there, with the Cypriot government covering lodging, food, drink and medication for COVID-19 patients and their families.