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UK-Spain tourism fall-out continues: ‘Many British tourists feel safer in Benidorm than at home’

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (26 August)

Members of the Valencian Tourist Board met on Tuesday to discuss the ‘Strategic Plan for Tourism’ in the region, but there was only one issue on everyone’s mind – the new UK quarantine measures.

And the members weren’t only furious about the UK’s decision, their frustration is now also aimed at Fernando Simón, the director of the Spanish Health Ministry’s ‘Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies’, who seemed to agree with the UK’s quarantine decision.

Simón’s comments made on Monday have turned into a full-blown row with the tourism sector.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus in Spain figures (28 July)

At Tuesday’s tourist board meeting, Alicante’s provincial president Carlos Mazón said Simón should ‘shut up’ and ‘let those who want to boost the summer season work on it’.

Fernando Simon, director of the Spanish Health Ministry’s Coordination Centre for Health Alerts and Emergencies.

He said, ‘The only petition I would make is for Simón to shut up and stop talking about things he knows nothing about.’

But what did Fernando Simón say?

When talking about the UK’s quarantine decision on Monday, Simón said, ‘To a certain extent it helps us because it removes the incentive for people to come here from the UK.’

He said the same about Belgium and backed it up by saying, ‘It removes the problem for us’.

ALSO READ: Valencia in English – weekly round-up (26 July)

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez later explained that with taking public decisions, ‘it is important to know how to combine the health and economic perspectives’ and that ‘Doctor Simón is an epidemiologist’.

Returning to the main issue, Mazón labelled the decision by the UK government as ‘absolutely arbitrary and without any type of justification on health or epidemiological grounds’.

Valencian president Ximo Puig (centre) during the Valencia Tourism meeting on 28 July 2020. (

Mazón insisted that ‘our reaction is to support the sector and not to criticise it, with strengthened safety measures’ and to ‘contain or avoid outbreaks which continue to be much below the average in respect to other European regions’.

Benidorm Mayor, Toni Pérez, was also at the meeting and highlighted ‘the unity shown in the tourism board meeting with a common message: look after what works’.

He also affirmed that ‘Benidorm is safer than ever’, and said, ‘there are many British tourists who insist that in Benidorm they are safer than in their own home’.

The meeting was also attended by Valencian president Ximo Puig, Valencian Councillor for Tourism, Francesc Colomer, the director general, Herick Campos and various representatives of local councils, bodies and associations.

Benidorm beach being prepared as part of the beach safety measures. (Photo Ayuntamiento de Benidorm)

Figures out yesterday showed a continued rise in infections of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the Valencia region, with nearly half related to nightlife, but still the pubs and discos have not been closed, even though neighbouring regions of Murcia and Catalonia have made that decision already, as well as Gandia where the health department decided to close bars on 18 July.

Valencian president Ximo Puig seems to prefer a policy of punishing those who don’t comply with hygiene and social distancing rules, rather than placing a blanket ban on nightlife venues.

But with infection figures rising, and doubling during the past two weeks, how much longer can he put it off?

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