Benidorm hopes dashed for June green list but Balearics have ‘good chance’ of making it

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Benidorm tourist chiefs have put back their hopes of an influx of UK tourists to the end of July after being urged to show “caution” and “patience” during a meeting with Hugh Elliot, Britain’s Ambassador to Spain. Costa Blanca’s hopes of getting preferential treatment from the rest of mainland Spain because of its low coronavirus rates were dealt a hammer blow today after Mr Elliot indicated the region would not be differentiated from others.

Meanwhile, Benidorm mayor Toni Perez admitted afterwards his hopes of seeing a flood of British tourists in the early part of the summer had been dented as he said he was now looking towards late July and August.

Antonio Mayor, President of the Benidorm, Costa Blanca and Valencia Hotel Association Hosbec, also said the possibility of green list country Portugal being demoted to the UK’s amber list had been discussed at the meeting.

He added: “We were told the Valencian Autonomous Community which includes the Costa Blanca wouldn’t be treated differently from the rest of mainland Spain despite its low rate of coronavirus.

“The impression I was left with was that there was a good chance the Balearic Islands could be included on the next green list but not necessarily the Canary Islands because it’s not doing the same amount of genome sequencing to identify the different strains of Covid.

“What what was made clear at the meeting is that mainland Spain is not going to be put on the next green list that’s announced.

“Everything’s all a bit up in the air.

“The British Ambassador stressed the need for caution and patience in the light of the spread of the Indian strain of Covid.

“We hope it will be before but we’re looking now at July 20 as the sort of date when things might change and if that does happen the tour operators are going to need at least a fortnight to normalise operations which takes us into the start of August.”

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Reacting to local Spanish newspaper reports Mr Elliott had completely ruled out the possibility Spain would make the UK’s green traffic light list before the end of July.

Mr Perez said: “He wasn’t that explicit but there’s a lot of question marks and few answers around at the moment and what is certain is the green light is still a few weeks away for mainland Spain.”

The meeting between officials lasted just over an hour.

The mayor added: “We can announce a summer which is very linked to national tourism.

“Our hope is that we can begin to receive British tourists at the end of July and start of August in the run-up to an autumn we hope will take place with the maximum normality possible.

“Our concern has long been when we can open up to British tourism which is our main tourism market.

“We are working on the basis there could be an important number of people arriving from the UK in the months of July and August, August and September.

“We know we’re a favourite destination of the British people and there’s just as much desire in the UK for an opening of the borders so UK holidaymakers can come here as there is here in receiving them.”

Mr Elliott, on his first official visit to Benidorm, added: “Tourism will look for safe places so I am sure that the work Benidorm and the Valencian Autonomous Community have been doing will pay off.

“We are sharing information in a very fluid way and I am sure the dates Benidorm’s mayor has talked away will be the dates when we can see my compatriots enjoying the holidays here they want to enjoy.”

The Valencian Autonomous Community, which includes the provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante, has been campaigning to get preferential treatment from the rest of mainland Spain on the UK’s traffic light system.

It has been the region in Spain with the lowest accumulated coronavirus rates for more than two months, although the rate has gone up in the last couple of days to 35.47 per 100,000 inhabitants.

Additional reporting by Natalia Penza.

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