Soaring cases, curfews dent Spain’s efforts to rescue vital tourism sector

Madrid, Jul 15 (EFE).- Soaring coronavirus infection rates and tough new restrictions to stem contagion have dealt a fresh blow to Spain’s pandemic-weary tourism and hospitality sectors, especially in sun-kissed resorts along the Mediterranean, the Balearics and the Canary Islands.

Regional authorities in Valencia, eastern Spain, have reinforced a nightly curfew in the city and 31 towns after an explosion of new Covid-19 cases, especially among younger people, who are less likely to be vaccinated.

The measures, in combination with the high infection rates, are warding off foreign tourists, Carlos Boga, director of the five-star Hotel Las Arenas, located on Valencia’s beachfront promenade, told Efe.

“The clients are asking us about the restrictions, and the curfew. It’s not an appetizing dish for a tourist,” he said.

The Netherlands on Thursday confirmed it would move Spain to its amber list of destinations, meaning that returning visitors will have to provide a negative PCR test as of Friday.

In addition, the United Kingdom this week announced that, from Monday, the Balearics, which include Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza, as well as the Canary Islands, would no longer be classed as safe travel areas, and those returning to the UK will have to quarantine unless they are fully vaccinated.

It paints a grim picture for Spain’s all-important tourist industry, which in 2019 accounted for 12.4% of national GDP, despite government efforts to revive the sector in time for the summer.

The head of Mallorca’s hotel federation, María Frontera, said she expected a wave of cancellations, a drop in reservations and an exodus of tourists from the island as unvaccinated Brits scramble home before the obligatory quarantine comes into effect.

Authorities in Catalonia, which has one of the highest infection rates in all of Spain, on Thursday asked the regional supreme court for the legal backing to enforce a nighttime curfew for a week.

Some 75% of hotels in the region’s Costa Daurada were open this July but occupancy rates are low, hovering around 40%.

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