Canaries Covid test threatens bookings boom

Agents are reporting a rush of last-minute bookings for the Canaries after the government added the Spanish islands to its travel corridor list.

But a new law is expected to be introduced within days that will require tourists to produce a negative Covid-19 test before being allowed to enter the islands, which include Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

The islands’ president Angel Victor Torres and Minister of Tourism Yaiza Castillo have said the regional government wants the new law in place within two weeks.

Existing proposals would require tourists to produce evidence of a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours before their visit. Alternatively, they will have to take a test on arrival at a private clinic. If it’s positive, they won’t be allowed to stay at their hotel and will have to go into quarantine instead.

The cost will have to be borne by the visitor, but the Canaries are believed to be favouring an antigen test, which is faster and cheaper than a PCR test.

Boots is planning to roll out a 12-minute antigen test to stores soon. It will cost £120, which is the same as its 48-hour PCR test, which is more widely accepted by countries who require proof that a tourist is Covid-free.

Holidaymakers desperate for winter sun rushed to book the Canaries after the government reinstated the UK’s travel corridor to the islands last Thursday.

Advantage said bookings through its Managed Services members were up 102% year on year between Thursday and Sunday, with three-quarters of the bookings for travel before the end of the year.

“This demonstrates that there is definitely pent-up demand from travellers and that we are seeing a very late booking market because of the unpredictability of destinations being added and removed from the UK Government’s quarantine list,” said Leisure Director Kelly Cookes.

“Sales were also up year on year to the Maldives. We hope that this positive step forward for the industry continues throughout the winter season with the addition of more countries deemed safe for travel.”

Lastminute.com said its bookings for Gran Canaria rocketed 4,700% from Thursday to last Sunday compared with the previous four days, when travel to the island was still restricted.

Bookings for Lanzarote were up 3,050% and for Tenerife they were up 893%.
Lastminute said 92% of its Lanzarote bookings were for departures within the next seven days.

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