The boss of Melia Hotels International has backed plans to create safe travel corridors between the UK and Spain.
Gabriel Escarrer, executive vice chairman and chief executive of Spain’s largest hotel company, called for destinations and source markets share “consistently thorough” security standards and controls.
He argued that travel restrictions have been enforced without any scientific basis, adding: “We know that transmission of Covid-19 takes place mainly internally and not through travel.
“Although the vaccination process is progressing steadily, especially in the UK, which is way ahead of the European Union, we all need to learn to live with Covid-19, as it is likely here to stay.”
The call came as Trailfinders founder Mike Gooley called on the UK government to state that when travel re-opens, those who have been vaccinated will be able to return to the UK, without test or quarantine, from all but high-risk countries.
In a company blog, he said: “Cyprus has joined the list of countries recognising that, for those who have been vaccinated, liberty should return. Cyprus will welcome vaccinated people as soon as the UK government frees us to travel.
“Greece and Spain have also put up a sign stating they will very soon be open for tourists and other countries will follow suit rapidly.
“This week the Thai tourist industry have lobbied their government to allow UK tourists from 1 July, along with people from other countries who are on top of their vaccine programmes.
“The fact the UK has done so well with our vaccine strategy is something to be applauded and an easing of restrictions for the travel industry, both here and abroad, is the dividend.”
Escarrer said: “We believe that the only way to enable safe travel is to create and share a cross-border Digital Health Pass, that certifies not only whether a traveller is vaccinated, but whether he/she has undergone the correct testing and at the same time, we must be able to audit and certify the destinations’ tourism value chain in its integrity, to make sure that destinations and source markets share consistently thorough security standards and controls.
“The United Kingdom is the most important feeder market for Spain, and for millions of British travellers, holidays to Spain are more than a just tradition, but part of their lives.
“What’s more, during this crisis we have fully realised that there is a contained demand among travellers, eager to travel as soon as restrictions are removed. Immediately after the Boris Johnson’s announcement to lift borders closure in May, the bookings skyrocketed for mainland Spain and its islands.
“The Spanish tourism sector has demonstrated that it is extremely safe and responsible – as far as we know, there have been no Covid outbreaks reported in Spanish tourism facilities whatsoever – and we truly believe that we’ll be able to progressively restore travel before this summer.
“Moreover, I am convinced that this summer, visiting Spanish holiday destinations will be a unique and a quite exclusive experience.
“With this in mind, we could not agree more with the proposal to create safe travel corridors between Spain and the UK and are hopeful that this will be implemented soon.”
He added: “Following one year of international lockdowns due to the pandemic, it has too often been the tourism sector that has suffered due to indiscriminate restrictions whether through border closures, quarantines etc., that have cause unparalleled damage to our industry and our economies as a whole.
“Therefore, we don’t only aim to restore the travel industry’s activity, but the freedom of individual travel, too.”