Ashotel warns that Spain’s restrictions are ‘destructing’ tourism in the Canaries
Ashotel, the Hoteliers Association of Tenerife, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro, warned the central Government of Spain yesterday of the “destruction” that the restrictions being applied to British tourists are causing in the Canary Islands, right in the middle of the archipelago’s high season. So far there has been 40% of holidays cancelled in Tenerife, and major airlines and tour operators are feeling the pain of only vaccinated people being allowed to travel and enter the country.
They reminded the Government that they already warned of this situation on December 1st, the date that the new legislation of Order INT / 1304/2021, of November 26, came into effect, which modified the criteria of non-essential (tourist) trips until December 31st, which especially affects the British market due to the fact that minors aged between 12 and 15 aren’t yet being vaccinated in the UK.
The proximity to Christmas period, the busiest time of year in the Canary Islands, has already caused a significant amount of cancellations in the Islands, which in Tenerife can be estimated at around 40%, the highest amount in the Canaries as the island has the most visitors from the UK.
The president of Ashotel and of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT), Jorge Marichal, said that he did not understand “why” a 13-year-old Austrian boy can come to Spain with an antigen test, but a 13-year-old British boy can't. "If something is clear to me, it is that the virus does not understand borders, laws, or politics," he said.
After a year of vaccination against COVID-19 in Spain, with one of the highest coverage rates in all of Europe, Marichal says that the same measures and restrictions that were applied then, cannot be applied now, and agreed that health security is always the number one priority, but the economy also has to keep going.
"The hoteliers have not been suspected or accused of not complying with the imposed measures, what is more, we were pioneers throughout the State, in the coordinated development in record time of a series of protocols that we have applied in our complexes," he said.
"Now that we are in the middle of our high season, why do we have to lose thousands of reservations on the islands due to a decision that really meets political criteria?" He also stated that the traffic light levels that are applied on each Canary Island, depending on the health pressure due to COVID-19 infections, have been a useful instrument.
However, he insists that the outbreaks are occurring in environments that have nothing to do with hotel establishments, and considers that putting more obstacles to accommodation activity will not protect the Canary Islands from infections that are not in the hotel environment.
Marichal stressed that Ashotel has supported the request for a COVID certificate from the first instant, a tool that is now voluntary in the Canary Islands, but that allows establishments that request it, to apply the capacity, group size, and opening hours of the level below the one that the island is in.
In fact, he continued, “the hotel establishments were pioneers in requesting that control from their guests at the entrance to their facilities, a request that for almost a year was regulated by decree 17/2020 of the Canary Islands Government that regulates the conditions of access to tourist establishments on the islands, which is currently on hold.”
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During all this, Fuerteventura is registering the best tourist recovery figures in the Canary Islands, according to the tour operator Smytravel, who announced that so far in 2021 the airport has experienced an increase of 16.92% in passenger arrivals, which represents 91,064 more people. The increase in foreign visitors has seen more French and German tourists coming to the Island, followed by other countries in central and southern Europe.