Alicante-Elche airport can now receive international flights, both incoming and outgoing, it was announced at the weekend. The Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos, said the government has fulfilled the commitment it made on Friday with the Generalitat and the CEV. Over the weekend, flights to Oslo, Stockholm and Kiev departed from Alicante. Next weekend there are more flights to Scandinavia scheduled. The planes will also be able to bring Scandinavian people, who can prove that they have their second residence in the Alicante province or have dual citizenship, here to Spain.
Legislation issued last week limits passenger flights originating outside of Spanish territory and designates Spain’s ports and airports as “entry points with the capacity to attend public health emergencies of international importance”. However, in order to better manage the state of emergency, there is provision in the legislation that each autonomous community has limited power to modify the list of allowed entry points.
Based on this provision, the autonomous communities of Andalusia, the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and the Valencian Community have requested that the Ministry of Health expand the list of working airports. The move takes into account each region’s specific needs, the strategic capabilities of the health system in each corresponding geographical area, the resources offered to reinforce health checks at designated points of entry with personnel trained for this purpose, as well as the evolution of the state of emergency and infection in the respective Autonomous Community and its ability to react to eventual risks associated with the proposed measure, according to the BOE.
Requests submitted by regional governments throughout Saturday and Sunday were reviewed by central government and the decision to include Alicante-Elche airport as an entry point to Spain was taken. Requests were also made successfully by Seville, Menorca, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife South and Valencia.
Hope on the horizon
Last month was the worst April in the history of Costa Blanca tourism due to the closure of hotels and the cancellation of flights. However, tourism officials have revealed that during April, 73,000 foreign tourists searched for airline tickets to visit the Costa Blanca later this year.
A report by the Generalitat Valenciana on the tourism situation has revealed that during the last two weeks of the worst April in history, over 75,000 foreign tourists used flight search portals with the intention of buying a ticket to fly to the Costa Blanca later this year, specifically between September and October. Of the total figure looking to visit, 42,573 were Germans, 27,696 from the United Kingdom and 4,834 Belgians. The data, it is widely hoped, reveals an expected recovery of the arrival of foreign tourists for the end of the year.
Hoteliers believe that the medium-term priority market (July and August) will be mainly domestic tourism and to this end, they are preparing special offers for residential tourists. A drop in prices has been ruled out, but other incentives are being tabled such as free “spa” treatments and, for example, free parking for the duration of stays being offered by the Servigroup chain, given that 80% of national tourists will holiday using their own car. In April, with everything closed, losses in the sector reached one billion euro so hoteliers will be trying a number of avenues to encourage Spaniards to take holidays at home this year.
Other chains such as SH hotels are offering specific discounts of 40% for health personnel and security forces and have already launched a ‘Heroes without a cape’ campaign which allows those who have worked on the front line to enjoy a 40% discount on overnight stays at any of the chain’s hotels until December 30.
Borders and airspace in the EU should be open again from July and tour operators have already been selling flights and holiday packages, but in the case of the Costa Blanca, the sector here has to contend with another problem: 40% of total tourism in municipalities such as Benidorm comes from the United Kingdom, the country most affected (next to the US) by the global pandemic. The tourism industry, and the raft of other local businesses which rely on its success, will have to wait in hope of a recovery before the end of the year.