A TOUR operator has warned it would be devastating for holidaymakers if the Spanish government keeps its borders closed this summer.
With growing vaccine confidence and bookings beginning to return, the UK travel industry had thought they were seeing some light at the end of lockdown. But a new concern has been raised that could plunge the industry deeper into crisis and hit consumer confidence.
Last week, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez spoke at the 113th meeting at the United National Tourism Organisation where he said he hoped 70 per cent of his country’s population would be vaccinated by the end of summer which would then allow Spain “to be progressively better prepared to allow international tourists”.
Tourism minster Reyes Maroto attempted to clarify the situation saying she wanted to see tourism restart “as soon as possible” and hoped that international travel would resume at the end of spring.
But the PM’s speech has raised concerns among tour operators – many of whom have bookings arranged for the coming months.
In 2019 more than 18 million Britons travelled to Spain. In 2020 the Covid pandemic hit holidaymakers and the travel sector hard with widespread travel cancellations and restrictions.
According to online travel agent eDreams ODIGEO, many bookings have already been made for 2021 with the top three Spanish destinations being Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife, and Alicante.
Christopher Wilmot-Sitwell of luxury tour operator Cazenove & Loyd said delaying reopening borders until the end of summer would cause “carnage for the consumer”.
Speaking about the outlook for 2021 he said: “The big worry I have over the summer is with destinations – like Mr Sanchez in Spain saying he is probably not going to open his borders for summer holidays. That is going cause failures in the industry. And if there are failures in the industry then that is going to rock confidence in a huge way.
“It’s going to be carnage out there for the consumer.”
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