HOTELIERS in the Canary Islands are in talks with regional and national authorities to set up quick coronavirus testing for tourists, with results as fast as 15 minutes.
The new scheme, which would affect the holiday islands including Tenerife and Lanzarote, hopes to to try and save some of the winter season after quarantine restrictions destroyed the summer season.
The UK placed Spain on the quarantine list back in July, after a spike in cases – the country has seen more than 540,000 cases, with the daily infection rate above 8,000.
The Atlantic archipelago is a rare warm destination in winter in Europe, with temperatures remaining around 20C, and the season accounts for half of its annual tourism revenues.
After a sharp drop in tourism amid worries over the COVID-19 pandemic, a UK quarantine and travel warnings from Germany, officials hope quick testing on arrival and departure could help.
"There are tests that are faster and much cheaper than PCRs. There are frequent meetings about it", a spokeswoman of the regional government tourist department said to Reuters, referring to the widely used PCR laboratory tests.
Hoteliers said they hoped results in less than 15 minutes could help lure tourists back.
But with the idea for tests on arrival already floated a few months back, they feared their plan might take time to materialise.
"It will take some time until it becomes a reality, so we are not going to save all the winter season, which begins on November 1, but at least a part of it," said Juan Pablo Gonzalez, manager of Asotel, an association of more than 250 hotels in the Tenerife region. Only a third of them are still open, he said.
"To be positive, since we have already hit the bottom of the well, all we can do is get up and step back out," he said.
Hoteliers have already felt the impact of a poor summer season. One hotel chain, RIU Hotels temporarily closed 8 out of the 12 hotels they opened on the islands when the lockdown ended due to the lack of tourists, especially German visitors, a spokeswoman said.
Spain’s Minister for Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Reyes Maroto confirmed yesterday that there will be PCR tests for tourists at their destinations in order to create safe tourism corridors for the winter season.
After discussions with the president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, confirmed this would be approved on September 28 before being sent to the European Commission, according to local media.
Holidays to the Canary Islands may be able to resume as soon as October following the UK's new quarantine restrictions which allow regional travel corridors.
Quash Quarantine spokesperson Paul Charles told Sun Online Travel: "You've got to hope that the situation does get better by October in terms of case numbers reducing now that the crowds have gone back home. I’m hopeful that October will see these islands opening again.
"I still think there is a chance if you want a holiday, just wait a bit longer for the case numbers to come down and hope the islands manage to get their numbers down."
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