Employers and think tanks in the sector are surprised and warn that it will scare off foreign visitors. Brussels calls for “scientific and epidemiological criteria” from countries that impose quarantine.
If there was a tour operator about to launch a tourist travel brochure to Spain, they have probably been quarantined until further notice. The decision of the Government of Spain to impose 14 days of isolation on all international travelers who step on Spanish territory while the state of alarm lasts has seated like a jug of cold water the tourist businessmen who criticize the surprise at a measure on which they are not He had warned them, and that the announcement may scare off potential international tourists who plan to visit Spain.
“If this quarantine announcement is prolonged, it will be lethal for Spain,” regrets Exceltur executive vice president, José Luis Zoreda, who warns that it represents “another new blow against the interests of the sector.”
Entrepreneurs do not question the scientific basis for this new imposition but, again, the lack of notice by the Government. “At no time had we glimpsed any measure of the style. It was something completely sudden,” says Zoreda, and clarifies that “it was not on the agenda of the conversations we have had with the Executive, very intense conversations, taking into account that the sector is one of those who is suffering the most from this crisis. ”
“We need planning. From the agencies, we need time to market and package products. The activity is currently marginal and in our business, with significant personnel costs and little margin, we require significant volumes to function,” agrees the President of the Spanish Confederation. of Travel Agencies, (Ceav), Carlos Garrido.
The measure, announced yesterday by the Ministry of Health and published in the BOE, establishes that those foreigners who visit Spain must submit to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival from this Friday, May 15, and while the state continues alarm.
The period of isolation must be spent in the accommodation in which they plan to stay, from which they can only go out to make the purchase, throw the garbage, go to the pharmacy or the doctor.
“We are totally surprised, since we had no news about it and it is not correct to find out directly about the publication of the BOE Order,” regrets Martí Sarrate, from the Corporate Association of Specialized Travel Agencies.
“Between this and not opening borders there is no difference,” emphasizes Garrido. With this news, the recovery is even further.
The announcement could also ruin the Balearic and Canary Islands’ plans to save their summer season. The islands were considering creating air corridors with countries like Germany to attract tourists and mitigate the impact that the sector break will have on two economies with a strong dependence on foreign tourism. The Transport Minister, José Luis Ábalos, did not rule out the search for some formula that would allow this connection.
Entrepreneurs also warn that the announcement, being made at the beginning of the season, when tourists make decisions about when and where to go, may end up driving away demand. “There is demand that you want to travel to the Mediterranean and Spain, but if you start to see in the news from your country that Spain imposes quarantine on travelers, they may end up choosing another destination. The signals we are sending are not the most encouraging for to appear again on the priority radar of European destinations “, adds Zoreda.
The Health Minister, Salvador Illa, raised the uncertainty yesterday, clarifying that “this measure will be in force as long as it is necessary, throughout the period of de-escalation to guarantee that all the effort that has been made is not wasted by importing cases from other countries. ”
Spain is not the only country to impose quarantine on foreigners, so do the United Kingdom or Germany, but it is the most touristy to do so. “If it lasted longer, we can say goodbye to foreign tourism while the measure lasts,” Luis Martí, president of the Valencian Confederation of Tourist Entrepreneurs. For his part, the president of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodations, Jorge Marichal, considers that the mandatory quarantine is understandable in a state of alarm, but asks that at the end there be mechanisms to restore normality.
The quarantine announcement could work against the interests of the government itself in Brussels, which is reticent to the unilateral quarantine impositions of the member countries, and calls on those who impose them “scientific criteria”. Today, Brussels has on its agenda to agree on a transport revival plan. “If what was sought was a homogeneous framework for traveling in Europe, that one of the tourism leaders says that it does not accept foreigners is a contradiction,” says Zoreda. “We hope that the Government of Spain has sufficient capacity to influence the European Union so that, in the shortest possible time, the resumption of flights will take place. Otherwise, the blow to tourism would have extremely serious consequences,” he adds. Juan Molas, President of the Tourism Board.