Spain has reacted with outrage to recommendations from Britain and Germany that their citizens avoid its islands and beaches because of an increase in coronavirus cases during what should be the height of the tourism season.
With advisories piling up on top of a quarantine order from Britain for returning travellers, Spain is facing a major blow to any hopes of reviving its economy.
Tourism accounts for 12.3 per cent of Spain’s GDP and 12.7 per cent of jobs, Spain’s statistics office said, based on 2018 data. The country lost one million jobs between April and June, its biggest ever quarterly decline.
Francina Armengol, the head of the key tourist Balearic region, told a radio station Britain’s decision had no logical explanation, as the archipelago’s contagion rate was lower than that of the United Kingdom.
Her comments chimed with those of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who on Monday said it was a mistake for Britain to have considered Spain’s overall coronavirus rate rather than having a granular, regional approach.
But Britain stood firm, saying it would stick to the sudden quarantine it announced on Saturday and would extend an advisory against travel in mainland Spain to the Canary and Balearic islands.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday Britain would take action to impose quarantines on other countries should COVID-19 infections rise.
Spain’s Aragon region said the no-travel advisories were “discriminatory” and asked Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya to issue a formal complaint.
Britons make up the biggest group of foreign tourists in Spain, with some 18 million travelling there last year, just over a fifth of the total number of visitors. Some 11.2 million Germans visited Spain, making them the second-largest group.
Spain has recorded 278,782 coronavirus cases and 28,434 deaths, but the infection rate varies widely from region to region, with Catalonia and Aragon hardest-hit by an increase in new cases over past weeks.
Australian Associated Press