Spain is a popular haunt for British travellers, with approximately 18 million UK holidaymakers jetting off to the country pre-pandemic in 2019. However, recent developments with the traffic light system have seen the Balearic Islands rejoin the Canary Islands and mainland Spain on the amber list.
One issue which remains for the nation, however, is the lack of clarity over how and why countries are moved onto the amber or newly created “amber plus list”.
In the case of France, the Government cited an increase in cases of the Beta variant originally detected in South Africa.
However, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) data, in recent weeks cases of the Beta variant in Spain are five times higher than in France.
As of July 4, 20.2 percent of confirmed cases of coronavirus were found to be a result of the Beta variant.
Although the current landscape for travel remains uncertain, Ms Williams says she has “hope” holidays will return.
Particularly because tourism “is a lifeline for many destinations and tourism businesses that rely on British tourism.”
Already a number of hoteliers and tourism organisations have put in place measures to keep their staff and customers safe during the pandemic.
“There are a huge range of initiatives that have rolled out, for example, a number of Spanish regions have begun offering their own free travel insurance which covers foreign visitors in the event of a Covid-19 infection,” said Ms McWilliams.
“Andalucía, the Balearic Islands and the Costa Cálida – Region of Murcia are all offering free travel insurance to foreign visitors who stay in regulated tourist accommodation.
“The policies vary in the finer details but all cover medical, surgical and hospitalisation expenses, medical expenses for transportation and repatriation, as well as the costs of extending a stay at a regulated accommodation.”
She continued: “Many large Spanish hotel companies, such as Palladium Hotel Group, have started providing testing on-site to make the whole process a little smoother for those requiring a test prior to returning to the UK, while on a practical level Spanish tourism business – including restaurants and bars are embracing technology to minimise physical transactions.”
As a result, Ms McWilliams is confident Spain and its archipelagos are “safe” tourist destinations.
“My personal feeling is that Spain, the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands have an exceptional infrastructure to ensure residents and visitors are well looked after,” she said.
“The COVID figures have gone up recently but for the most part, this is amongst young people who are not displaying harmful symptoms.
“The hospitals are not under pressure and the Spanish tourism industry has put in place a wide range of measures to minimise any risk of infection.”
In order to get holidays back up and running, the expert believes the answer lies in “more affordable testing.”
She said: “This continues to be a barrier for many people.
“A survey conducted in June by travel insurer Battleface said Britons are now prepared to pay £61 on average for all necessary testing in order to take a holiday.”
Although Ms McWilliam’s says the tourism industry is keen to welcome back holidaymakers, she also recognises the uncertainty ever-changing rules pose.
“As the rates have gone up, I think travellers need to make their own informed decision as to whether or not they are prepared to travel based on their own personal circumstances,” she concluded.