Will holidays to Spain go ahead this summer?
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.
Spain is a firm favourite for British sun-seekers and revellers.
Be it lapping up the sol on the Costas or getting caught up in the atmosphere of The White Isle, there really is something for everyone.
Ultimately, Brits’ love for España means that visitors from the U.K. to Spain represent the bulk of the sun-soaked nation’s tourism market. Some 18 million British tourists travelled to Spain in 2019, according to La Vanguardia.
It’s for this reason that the Spanish Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés is considering a bilateral agreement with the U.K. should the E.U. fail to come to a solution for vaccine passports, according to Bloomberg. In creating a bilateral agreement between the two nations, the hope is that vaccinated Brits would be welcomed to Spain for holidays this summer. Or, a process such as the travel corridors that were implemented by the U.K. government in summer 2020.
“We will be thinking of other solutions like corridors, green corridors with third countries that can help us to restart tourism flows,” Valdés said.
However, the popular holiday island of Mallorca is hoping to be granted permission from Spain’s central government in Madrid to also allow visitors with a negative COVID-19 PCR test, and not just those who have been vaccinated.
The island hopes to have all 800,000 inhabitants vaccinated within the next four months, greatly increasing the chances of Brits being able to travel there this summer.
“We are very optimistic,” said Lucia Escribano, tourism director for Mallorca. But, ultimately, “It’s in the [hands] of the Spanish government, Mallorca cannot do something by itself.”
Regardless if Brits would be allowed in, we have to first be able to leave the U.K. The earliest date that could happen is 17 May, the preliminary date set out for the return of international travel in the prime minister’s roadmap out of lockdown.
The details of what a potential “green corridor” or “bilateral agreement” would look like remain scarce for now. However, the involvement of some kind of vaccination passport is almost guaranteed to be a key factor.
Those returning to the U.K. from Spain under current regulations have to quarantine for 10 days, as England has suspended its travel corridor list. Additionally, passengers returning to the U.K. need a negative COVID-19 test result prior to departure, and they also have to take two additional COVID-19 tests on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine. Such strict entry requirements would need to be lifted or revised in order to make holidaying in Spain both possible and desirable.
Following the roadmap announcement in February, U.K. airlines reported huge spikes in bookings. Additionally, some took a clear showing of pent-up demand to expand their route networks for the summer. At this point, fares from the U.K. to holiday destinations in Spain remain very low in comparison to what summer prices would be at this time of year in pre-COVID-19 times.
Let’s take a look at flights to Malaga (AGP), one of the more popular destinations for British sun-seekers and families. According to prices from Google Flights, flights from London to Malaga from May to August total less than £100 return throughout the four-month summer period.
Surprisingly, the cheapest fare we found from London to Malaga is on 17 May — the preliminary date for the return of international travel. If you’re planning on escaping as soon as possible, there are fares for £36 return on this date from Southend (SEN) to Malaga (AGP) with Ryanair. Note, however, you may need to take advantage of a flexible booking policy if the return to travel is delayed beyond 17 May.
If you’d rather fly with full-service carriers British Airways, fares are still reasonable — at least comparable to what they would be this close to summer under normal circumstances. Return flights in May and June range from £63-£250 — the most expensive being dates over the last Bank Holiday in May. As is to be expected, prices increase significantly in July and August, more specifically from the latter half of July when the schools break up.
The cheapest return flight from London to Malaga we found was from Gatwick for £59 on 14 June.
Leisure airlines such as EasyJet and Jet2 are hopeful of a better summer than 2020. Jet2 was optimistic for increased demand even before vaccines had started rolling out, and in January, EasyJet reported that bookings up 250% for summer 2021 compared to for the same period last year. Additionally, the low-cost giant is expanding its domestic route network, recently adding two routes to Cornwall from Manchester and Glasgow.
So, with a preliminary date on the horizon and the temptation of cheap fares, should you book a holiday right now?
While there are pros and cons to booking a trip now with so many unknowns, Spain does appear to be one of the countries that we’ll be allowed to head to first.
Remember, though, that travel to Spain is likely to require proof of vaccination — a privilege not everyone may have had by the time the date eventually rolls around. For now, we will monitor the talks between the Spanish and U.K. governments.
Featured image by Imgorthand/Getty Images
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