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Published on Monday, July 27, 2020

Industry leaders slam government's handling of Spain travel

The UK government's handling of the Spain travel advisory has been roundly criticised by tourism leaders, with holidaymakers set to lose thousands from booked holidays and lost income.

It will likely have a 'catastrophic effect on consumer confidence' and severely impact the travel industry.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated the advice it gave 48 hours ago against non-essential travel to mainland Spain by extending it to the whole of the country,  including the Balearic and Canary Islands.

The FCO said: "From 27 July, the FCO advise against all non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks in the country.

"This advice is based on evidence of increases in cases of Covid-19 in several regions, but particularly in Aragon, Navarra and Catalonia (which include the cities of Zaragoza, Pamplona and Barcelona).

"Striking off whole countries is not a proportionate response and does not allow us to accurately target the areas where transmission of Covid-19 is likely to be high. At the same time, it is hugely damaging for the travel industry and the UK economy," said BALPA's General Secretary, Brian Strutton.

"We are asking the Government to sharpen the 'blunt tool' approach and look at the tried and tested way the FCO looks at safety and security at regional and city level rather than blacklisting entire countries."

Gary Lewis, CEO, The Travel Network Group said: The statistics for the Balearic and Canary Islands are in no way representative of the increases in Covid cases in pockets of mainland Spain.  A regional quarantine, or other measures such as testing through the airport, track and trace should be considered - a blanket ban isn't the answer."

The FCO advised customers to contact their tour operator or airline 'if you have any questions about your return journey.'

"The FCO is not advising those already travelling in Spain to leave at this time. Travellers should follow the advice of the local authorities on how best to protect themselves and others, including any measures that they bring in to control the virus.

Major operators including TUI and Jet2 have issued fresh updates for customers.

AITO was equally scathing in the Government's haphazard aproach.

"It is AITO's firm belief that the Government, by constantly hiding behind sweeping statements about 'following the science', without supplying travel industry experts, amongst others, with a firm rationale and allowing the travel industry to discuss it with them, government is going down the wrong route in connection with air corridors and quarantine," said AITO Chairman Chris Rowles.

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