TUI’s announcement has set alarm bells off across Spain’s tourism destinations, which are banking on “last minute bookings” to boost recovery in the sector.
Tour Operator TUI has announced today that it will only fly holidaymakers to countries that have “air bridges” or a reciprocal agreement with the UK, as reported. That means thousands of TUI customers could face having their travel plans cancelled after the tour operator announced it will only fly holidaymakers to destinations that don’t have quarantine measures in place. This latest update means existing bookings across Spain are at risk of being scrapped if “air bridges” aren’t set up in time. This would result in a huge blow for Spain’s holiday destinations such as Malaga’s Costa del Sol and Barcelona, which are heavily reliant on international tourists.
Andalucia’s regional government and tourism authorities has already warned Spain’s government against imposing quarantine measures on British tourists planning to holiday on the Costa del Sol this summer. The Junta of Andalucia’s Vice President and Tourism Minister Juan Marín has urged the government to help “facilitate tourists from the Schengen territory and the UK to come to Spain with the corresponding health guarantees” instead of quarantines. “This is not a time to play a game of chess,” he stressed, as many tourism companies potentially face huge losses in last minute holiday bookings.
It would also put a dampner on tourism destinations like Catalunia’s Barcelona, which is also heavily reliant on international visitors. Earlier this week, the Catalan government announced it would be investing €7.4 million in a campaign promoting tourism to “reactivate” the industry and avoid the closure of SMEs that are heavily dependent on tourists. Around €3.3 million has been earmarked to attract visitors from other parts of Catalonia and Spain, as well as nearby European countries including France, Germany and the United Kingdom with the remaining €4.1 million focused on attracting international visitors this year and next year. But this investment could go to a huge waste if agreements cannot be reached, and more holiday companies follow in TUI’s footsteps.