Holiday companies are seeing a ‘cascade of cancellations’ with the new UK restrictions
The Canary Islands tourism sector is experiencing a "cascade of cancellations" from British tourists who, given the new restrictions announced by the British and Spanish governments, have no choice but to cancel their holidays. Since last Tuesday all travellers entering the UK are required to undergo a day 2 PCR test within 48 hours of arrival and be in isolation until the result is obtained, then as of today, the situation is more complicated as in addition to this, travellers must now have a pre-departure PCR or antigen test within 48 hours of travelling to the UK.
The fear of being ‘stranded abroad’ after failing a pre-departure test is people biggest fear when going on holiday at the moment. These requirements, which affect everyone regardless of status of vaccination, make it difficult to travel as to holiday in the Canaries you must be double vaccinated to come, have a pre-departure test before you leave, and a day-2 PCR test and isolate until you get the result.
The Spanish Government has not made it easy for the British either, as since last Wednesday only fully vaccinated people are allowed to enter the country, including the Canary Islands, from the UK which includes children over 12 years of age, most of whom have not received two doses of the vaccine. This has caused many families to cancel trips due to the impossibility of being able to comply with the requirement. In the UK, most children aged 12-15 have not received their second dose yet, not because they don’t want to, but because of the vaccination schedule for that age group.
The Canary Islands tourism sector is watching this new scenario with great concern, as it is a huge blow to the good prospects for the sector for the winter season. These measures hit one of its main markets: only in October 325,796 Brits came to the islands, which represents 33% of the total number of international travellers (994,249) that visited the Canary Islands, according to the Statistics of Tourist Movements (Frontur), prepared by the INE.
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The islands of Tenerife and Lanzarote, which have the greatest dependence on British tourists, are the ones that are being hit the hardest with the volume of cancellations leading up to Christmas and the New Year.
Nicolás Villalobos from the Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Entrepreneurs (FEHT) and general director of the Be Cordial hotel chain, said these measures are "draconian and make it very difficult for the British to travel”. In his opinion, these restrictions go against the recommendations of organizations such as the World Tourism Organization, the World Health Organization, and the European Commission, which supports the Covid certificate, having the double standard of vaccination as the fundamental requirement for travel.
In his opinion, it is necessary to change the system globally on how Covid is measured as we must stop talking about the number of infections, and focus on the number of people being admitted to hospitals. “An alarm is being set off with the increase in cases.
The president FEHT, José María Mañaricua, points out that it is difficult to give accurate cancellations figures because they are taking place with very little notice. “Tourists are cancelling at the very last minute. They are waiting as long as possible in case the situation changes as they know they won’t lose their money", says Mañaricua.
He explained that holidays cancellations for the first half of December are happening now. In the middle of the month, the Christmas ones will happen. "The good forecasts for the winter season are fading," he warns.