As Spain gradually returns to a new normal following one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in Europe, a TUI Germany Boeing 737-800 has arrived in Mallorca from Dusseldorf. In an experiment to see if Spain is prepared to welcome back holidaymakers since it closed its borders in March, a plane full of mask-clad tourists has arrived at Palma de Mallorca Airport (PMI).
TUI flight number X32312/TUI4PE is the first in a series of flights, which will see more than 10,000 German nationals arrive in Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza. This new “travel corridor” is part of a plan to help coordinate Spain’s coronavirus rules adapt to mass tourism, a vital sector of Spain’s economy. Over 2.5 million people in Spain rely on tourism for their income while overall tourists visiting Spain account for 12% of the countries GDP.
Spain will open its borders with other EU countries on June 21
This trail with Germany comes ahead of Spain opening its borders to other European countries on June 21 and then to travelers from further afield on July 1. Today’s first flight was part of an agreement reached between Spain and the German tour operator TUI, who, together with other German airlines, will bring as many as 10,900 Germans to the Balearic Islands.
Before getting on the plane, all passengers had to fill out a detailed health questionnaire related to COVID-19. On arrival in Mallorca, they walked past signs in German and Spanish, reminding them to wear face masks, wash their hands, and practice social distancing.
— TUI Group (@TUIGroup) June 15, 2020
When talking about how happy Mallorca was to see tourist arriving, the president of the Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol, told Sky News,
“We will be the first region (in Spain) to open to international tourism under safe conditions,” adding that Germans were being allowed in first was because of the way Germany handled the pandemic.
Mallorca is a popular destination with Germans
Mallorca is a top-rated destination for Germans, many of whom own properties on the island. Hotels meanwhile are restricted to a 50% occupancy rate and will monitor tourists temperatures using infra-red cameras. Holidaymakers have also been warned that they can expect a more laid-back holiday, especially so on the party island of Ibiza.
“Holidaymakers can be happy that the beaches in Palma have never been so empty,” said Aage Duenhaupt, a spokesman for travel company TUI.
“But there won’t be parties, in the same way, this year. And we have rejigged the sports offerings in the hotels. There’ll be more individual sports and no team activities.”
The United Kingdom still has a 14-day quarantine in place
Unlike Germany and several other nations in Europe, the United Kingdom from where Spain gets the majority of visitors is lagging behind. Spain has said it is ready to welcome back British visitors when borders are fully open on July 1 but says much depends on the British government. Currently, anyone traveling abroad faces a 14 day quarantine period on their return with the authorities advising people to only travel when essential.
Spain allowing tourists back in is a big step in helping to salvage the busy summer travel season and will go a long way in determining how the country handles visitors.
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