German tourists wearing face masks have been flocking to Mallorca since Friday, with tens of thousands more planning to enjoy an Easter break in the Balearic Islands – whilst citizens living on mainland Spain are not allowed to travel there during Easter, due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Last week Germany lifted quarantine requirements for travellers returning from the Balearic Islands – as well as also removing the Valencia region, Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, La Rioja and Murcia from Covid-19 ‘risk zones’.
As soon as Berlin lifted the quarantine requirement for returning travellers from these regions, the demand for flights to the Balearic Islands soared, with tourists from France and elsewhere also returning to the streets of Madrid.
Tourists are still not allowed to stay in hotels or holiday lets in Germany, leaving foreign holidays one of the few options for those wanting to get away. The German government has still advised against non-essential travel, however, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman stating last week that ‘the lack of a travel warning is not an invitation to travel’.
On 10 March, Spain’s Health Ministry confirmed the perimeter closure for each region of Spain during the Easter period, in order to prevent ‘national tourism’.
Although the Balearic Islands and Canary Islands are exempt from many of the new restrictions in place during the holiday period, people from mainland Spain may still only travel to the islands for reasons already stipulated in the terms of the State of Alarm, such as returning to a principal residence, or for medical treatment, work, or for caring for dependants. The Health Minister Carolina Darias said, ‘We want to make it clear that you cannot travel to the Islands for tourism.’
In addition to the restrictions for Easter, the Spanish health ministry had also imposed the same measures for the ‘San José’ holiday for those regions where Friday 19 March was a public holiday (Valencia, Murcia, Navarra, Extremadura, Galicia, the Basque Country and Madrid). The restrictions for the San José long weekend were in place from 17-21 March.
The tourists arriving in Mallorca this weekend had flown in from various German cities including Berlin, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Hamburg. They all had to provide PCR test results not more than 72 hours old at the airport showing they were Covid-free.
Lufthansa’s low-cost Eurowings airline has added 300 extra flights from Germany to Mallorca for Easter in response to the jump in bookings after the quarantine lifting, with Ryanair also announcing 200 extra connections to Mallorca and Alicante.
Last week Eurowings already had to deploy larger aircraft to Palma for the first time since the Covid-19 crisis in order not to leave customers waiting for departure.
Eurowings CEO Jens Bischof had met Balearic Islands president Francina Armengol at the government headquarters in Palma to discuss current developments on the island. ‘Together with other Lufthansa Group airlines, we are expanding our flight offering with all due caution. In doing so, we are strictly committed to our industry-leading hygiene concepts,’ Bischof told journalists in Palma.
The return of German tourists provides a much-needed boost for Spain’s hardest-hit tourism industry. Foreign visitors to Spain fell 80% to 19 million in 2020, the lowest level since 1969, due to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions.
Responding to the sudden surge in bookings, Balearic authorities have said that they welcome the new wave of tourists, and would be strictly enforcing the requirements for a negative PCR test.
Mallorca vuelve a recibir turistas alemanes https://t.co/kQvuibGOpd— Telediarios de TVE (@telediario_tve) March 21, 2021