Spain’s tourism authorities have reassured potential visitors from the UK that the country remains a safe tourist destination. Responding to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in some regions, the UK director of the Spanish Tourist Office, Javier Piñanes, outlined measures Spain is taking to protect visitors – including in Murcia and the region’s popular Costa Cálida holiday resorts.
Based on data from 17 August, he reported, two out of three of all new infections over the previous 14-day period had been concentrated in four main Spanish regions: Madrid, Cataluña, Aragón and the Basque Country.
“The evolution of the pandemic varies dramatically from region to region,” said Piñanes, “but the local and regional authorities are taking swift and forceful measures to deal with localised outbreaks. There is full coordination between the national and regional governments in Spain to control and monitor the pandemic.
“On a national level… Spain announced the closure of nightclubs, as well as further guidelines for restaurants and bars regarding opening hours and social distancing. Additionally, various Spanish regions have demonstrated extra measures.
“Some regions, for example, have committed to paying for the visitor’s prolonged stay if they are forced to undertake a quarantine in Spain… while others have established ‘bridging accommodation’ to isolate positive cases.”
Piñanes noted that, in terms of the outbreaks, according to the Spanish ministry of health, most had been detected from family gatherings, private parties or nightclubs with a large concentration of people, followed by outbreaks in a work setting. “As such, these are settings which the visitor typically does not need to encounter.”
Piñanes argued that, despite the infection rate, fatalities caused by the coronavirus in Spain were low: 0.1 per 100,000 inhabitants, based on latest available ministry of health figures. This rate, he said, was similar or lower than the numbers recorded in other main European markets, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“We believe Spain continues to be a safe tourism destination, as long as the recommended safety and hygiene measures set out by the authorities are respected and followed. We are certainly not in the same position as we were in March – not by number of cases or by the pressures put on our health care system.
“Our tourism industry is thoroughly prepared to welcome tourism in a safe and hygienic way and our entire tourism industry has adapted its services to respond to the current situation.
“The decision of the United Kingdom (our main source market) and other countries to impose a quarantine on travellers from Spain has undermined tourist confidence.
“Our authorities continue to work with the UK government and other EU member states so that actions are taken based on public health criteria and the location of these outbreaks, focusing specifically on the most impacted areas.”
Murcia’s inland areas are being highlighted in a regional “Safe Tourism Certified” campaign.