For the last 12 months, Benidorm, Britain’s mecca in the sunshine, has been totally devoid of travellers from the UK. Now, the British government has announced that on 17 May, restrictions on non-essential travel will finally be lifted in England, although the measure will be reviewed on 12 April, depending on how the vaccination process and the incidence of the virus both evolve.
Wales, Scotland and Norther Ireland, though, are yet to follow suit.
Of course, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome but, nevertheless, the announcement was met with absolute delight by the Alicante tourism sector, who say that they now have a roadmap for their campaigns and business planning. However, they also highlight the importance of the covid-19 situation in Spain at that time.
It will not be possible to allow UK travellers into Spain if the pandemic is not under control here, and if quarantines are still being imposed on people returning to the UK from their holidays, as happened in July last year, causing thousands of cancellations across the Costa Blanca.
But, whatever doubts there may currently be, companies such as Jet2 have said that their bookings grew by 600% in less than 24 hours, following the announcement of the de-escalation plan by the British Prime Minister. And they are not the only travel company who are seeing their advance bookings increase in record numbers.
Tui saw its reservations from UK to Spain increase by 500% while Thomas Cook registered a 100% increase in its bookings. Ryanair and EasyJet also recorded a major surge in bookings. However, most travellers opted for caution, with August being the preferred month to travel, followed by July, September and October.
The manager of Visit Benidorm, Leire Bilbao, says she is worried that Spain will not do its homework and that politicians still don’t realise just how much work is still to be done.
Toni Mayor, president of the hotel management association of the Region (Hosbec), said that he positively values having a date on which he can now base his plans, but, he emphasised the importance of infections being dramatically reduced in Spain, so that travellers can book their holidays in the country with confidence.
He highlighted April as being the key month when the de-escalation plan in the United Kingdom will be reviewed again and when the mass vaccination program will finally get underway in Spain.
He said that he hopes that by May or June the infections and the number of admissions and deaths from the virus will have been dramatically reduced.
The director of the Costa Blanca Tourist Board, José F. Mancebo, said how important it is for the Spain to take note of what other countries are doing as they begin to draw up a plan for the return of of tourists, demanding that appropriate measures be adopted, and the government assuming an active role in the return of tourism.
Mayor also stressed that what must be done now is the development of a protocol with the necessary measures for when there are infections, with monitoring, tracking, confinement of the individual … We need to ensure that the errors we made in the past, that led to new waves of infections, are not repeated.