The Spanish government has faced fierce criticism after threatening to force holidaying Brits to quarantine for 14 days if the UK government doesn’t change its mind.
The announcement came just one day after the country had said it would welcome UK holidaymakers from the next week.
But in retaliation for the Brits own quarantine rule, Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González warned people from the UK could have to isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Now the Spanish government has been blasted by tourism chiefs and Costa politicians in a war of words.
The holiday hotspot is set to open its borders to UK residents and members of the European Schengen area on June 21 and remove the mandatory quarantine policy.
More than 18 million Brits pick Spain for their holidays every year and areas like the Costa del Sol are heavily dependent on UK tourism.
Now Francisco Salado, who is president of both Tourism for the Costa del Sol and Malaga Provincial Council, has accused Madrid of “playing chess.”
He told Spanish press: “The government has showed in the past few months that it doesn’t know how to manage the tourist industry.
“This is not the moment to play chess but to facilitate the arrival of tourists to Spain with the appropriate health guarantees.”
Dubbing the UK as a “great ally”, he accused Madrid of muddying the situation when what was needed is “tranquility and certainty.”
Juan Marin, vice-president of the regional Junta de Andalucia government which covers the Costa del Sol area, has also rejected the idea of a quarantine only for Brits.
He told Spanish radio station Canal Sur Radio the way forward was health checks including rapid coronavirus tests.
In an attack on Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez and his deputy leader Pablo Iglesias, he added: “Mr Sanchez and Mr Iglesias should listen to us more because we propose things with the aim of fixing problems.
“I said a month and a half ago that international tourism had died with the quarantine for international travellers. I don’t think the way forward is quarantine.
“For me it’s a health check before tourists come and a test here so they return in perfect conditions.
“A quarantine on British holidaymakers would do Andalucia great harm because the UK is our main international holiday market and average spending by British holidaymakers is higher than the rest.”
Around three million Brits pick the Costa del Sol every year for their holidays.
And an estimated 50,000 expats live on the sunshine coast with a significant number owning holiday homes in the area.
The news that UK residents could possibly return earlier than expected to Spain was welcomed by many.
But the prospect became unclear again after Spain’s foreign minister said the government were considering quarantine measures.
Ms González told the BBC: “We will be checking what the UK will be doing, and we will be in a dialogue with the UK to see whether or not we should be introducing reciprocity, as they have different measures from the rest of the European union.”