POLITICS: Castilla warns of zero tourism if antigen tests are not included for travellers

2020/11/20 13:35:11 Written by Canarian Weekly National

The Minister of Tourism for the Canary Islands, Yaiza Castilla, has insisted this morning in Parliament that the State must expand the list of diagnostic tests to include rapid antigen tests for travellers to save what remains of the winter season for the islands or face a second situation of zero tourism.

Castilla stated that "if the State continues with the requirement of only PCR tests, the bulk of flight schedules and planned holidays by operators will be cancelled, since they see it as completely unfeasible, due to logistics, cost and difficulties in accessing these tests in many regions."

She said that she is frustrated that tourist recovery is being so complicated and full of obstacles that have come from the resolution of the Ministry of Health, in which it establishes that all passengers coming from a risk area, which is almost all of Europe, who intend to enter Spain, must have a diagnostic test for Covid-19 with a negative result, carried out within 72 hours prior to arrival in Spain, and for which for now only PCR tests are permitted.

This measure will come into effect on Monday, and if it is not made more flexible and harmonized with the decree law of the Canary Islands for access to regulated tourist accommodation, for which antigen tests are accepted, it will practically mean a new zero tourism for the islands.

"If we manage to overcome this new obstacle, it is still possible to reach 5 million tourists for 2020, as we have already had 4 million up until September, and in this last quarter it is not unreasonable to receive 25% of the demand from the latter three months of the year 2019,” she said. Turismo de Canarias is hoping to end with 2.7 million tourists, which compared to almost 7 million in the last winter, implies a drop of 62%.

She also related aspects on which her department have been working on intensively, i.e. preparing the destination for the reception of tourists in the safest way possible, such as the design and implementation of protocols; involvement of the entire Canarian society in reducing the number of infections; hiring an insurance that covers a possible infection of tourists and drafting a decree that obliges tourists to present a negative Covid test when they go to a tourist establishment.

Yaiza Castilla also referred to the international promotion campaign, activated in September, with the aim of stimulating demand for winter trips, placing the islands as the only open European destination, in a critical context for tourist activity and with great restrictions on travel.

She stated that with this campaign, and at “such a complicated time" due to the pandemic, the notoriety of the brand 'Islas Canarias' is sought based on differential elements of the destination, enforcing the low epidemiological rates and transmitting a message of a destination fully reactivated with all health security guarantees.

In this sense, she indicated that the promotion was launched to stimulate the reopening of the European market coinciding with the lifting of the veto of the United Kingdom and Germany, to accompany the programming of the airlines with a marketing campaign that would promote the desire to return to the Canary Islands.

"And although now restrictions have returned in those countries, we remain present in the minds of our potential visitors, increasing their desire to travel to the Canary Islands when possible," she confirmed. The creative focus of the campaign is to give a warmer welcome than ever to a European refuge, a natural paradise to truly relax, where everything is prepared.