The King and Queen of Spain today urged Brits to return to their favourite holiday destination as the Government revealed we will find out by next week where we can go on holiday this summer.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia declared the country open for business, and appealed for tourists to flock to the Costas and Canaries.
Brits will find out by Monday where they can enjoy a foreign holiday this summer, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today. He will reveal which countries the UK has struck air bridge deals with, which would allow for quarantine-free travel.
Mr Shapps said the decision will depend on the rate of infection in holiday destinations. He said: “There are areas where the virus is more under control. We are having conversations and I will be saying more about that on or by the 29th.”
Mr Shapps refused to say how countries would be chosen for air bridges. But they are thought to include destinations such as Greece, France and Spain.
In a further sign of the reopening of the Continent, key tourist attractions across Europe are welcoming visitors again. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, reopens its doors today. Art lovers will return to the city’s iconic Louvre Museum on July 6.
Brits have been advised against all-but-essential travel to anywhere in the world for the last three months amid lockdown. On June 8, the Government introduced a quarantine meaning that those arriving from abroad, including Brits returning home, must self-isolate for 14 days, which is set for review on Monday.
The travel industry – one of the worst-hit by coronavirus, wants the quarantine scrapped to boost business. Air bridges or travel corridors are seen as a key to restarting tourism.
Mr Shapps said: “We want to have a rational system, where places where unfortunately coronavirus is raging currently, we want to make sure that we’re not reinfected, either by Brits going abroad and coming back or people coming here from those areas.” He told the Commons Transport Select Committee that a major consideration in agreeing an air bridge with other countries is if they have a test and trace system up to the standard of the UK’s.
The UK death toll rose by 154 today hitting 43,081, with Britain the worst-hit country in Europe. A spokeswoman for the Association of British Travel Agents said: “We welcome the idea of agreeing travel corridors with other nations to allow Britons to travel abroad. However, we need a more comprehensive roadmap as soon as possible that includes timeframes for relaxing international travel restrictions so businesses and customers can plan ahead.”
An Airlines UK spokesman said air bridges would be “clearly a lot better than a blanket quarantine”. He added: “It will enable families to get away this summer. Airlines will respond to this demand by putting on more capacity.”
Karen Dee, head of the Airport Operators Association, said: “The Government should look to revoke the blanket quarantine measure as soon as possible and institute a measured approach which is proportionate to the risk present in destination countries.”
During a tour of Spain’s islands, King Felipe and Queen Letizia urged tourists to visit the country.
After a walk along the sands in Gran Canaria, the King said: “We have been able to stroll by the sea and show Spain is in a new phase and we’re tackling the recovery. The message we want to send to people is one of encouragement, that visitors have to come, from the mainland, from Europe, from wherever is necessary. We have to lift our spirits.”
He said tourism was fundamental to the Canary Islands’ economy. Over the next few weeks, the royal couple will tour Spain to speak to locals and to try to convince tourists to visit.
The first travellers from the UK jetted to Spain on Sunday, after the country opened its borders to Europeans. Tourists from outside Europe are expected to be allowed to return from the start of next month, although visitors from countries hard hit by coronavirus, like Brazil, Russia and the US, could face continuing restrictions.
Jaume Dulsat, the mayor of Lloret De Mar, Costa Brava, says the summer season will be “saved” by Brits. In Benidorm, Mayor Toni Perez said: “Benidorm is waiting for everyone to come.”
Tracey Walker, who runs the Britannia Bar in Benidorm, said: “We need British tourists back. Without the Brits we’re dead.” Malaga Airport, the gateway to the Costa del Sol, said that 100 flights a day will start arriving from next week. It expects to handle 435,000 passengers this year, compared with 2.2 million in 2019.
Meanwhile, UK booking sites are reporting record sales as Brits scramble to bag a staycation. Luxury lodge specialist Hoseasons is taking new reservations every 11 seconds.