Hundreds of thousands of Britons have “locked down” holiday homes on both the Spanish mainland, Canaries and Balearic islands and tourism chiefs are calling for them to be allowed to return as soon as possible. They want the Spanish Government to help speed up the processes so that hard-pressed owners can use them again either for short or long-term stays.
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They say this will be key to unlocking the tourism stalemate caused by the coronavirus pandemic and revitalise local economies, including the bars and restaurants which will be allowed to open half of their terraces from May 11th and half of the interiors at the start of June.
Many business owners say they are not going to bother as it will not be cost-effective if the only customers they have are local or national.
It’s estimated that around one million Brits have holiday homes in Spain.
Many bought them as an investment during the boom times but now face mortgage repayments and community fees/rates even though they can neither use them or rent them out to families or friends.
The plea to unlock holiday homes is being led by the Costa del Sol where many UK families have apartments or villas, including in the hotspots of Marbella and Malaga.
At the moment, the travel ban is stopping them going to Spain, with no indication as to when the restrictions will be lifted. Many believe it will not be until the autumn at least.
The Costa del Sol plea coincides with a report which shows the arrival of foreign tourists plunged 64.3 percent in March due to the crisis, with only two million international tourists arriving before flights were hit and lock down measures enforced.
It also meant they spent 2,215 million euros, 63.3 percent less than in the same month of 2019. The main source markets for tourists arriving in Spain in March were the United Kingdom, Germany and France.
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The Costa del Sol says letting foreign owners return to their holiday homes would be the best promotion the tourist hotspot could have during the coronavirus de-escalation period.
Business owners, from restaurants to bars and from rent-a-cars to taxis, say they are suffering so much that they are likely to go out of business before the British market returns.
Tourism of Costa del Sol has told Spanish newspapers that foreign owners are their backbone and they should be allowed to return as soon as possible once all the health and safety guarantees were in place.
Andalusia’s government says it understands the concerns but has its “hands tied” by Spain’s coronavirus regulations and the continued lockdown at the airports and ports.
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Earlier this week, the FCO issued an update to Britons hoping to travel to Spain.
“On April 28, the Spanish government announced a four-stage de-escalation plan to gradually ease the current confinement and mobility measures over an estimated period of at least eight weeks,” said the FCO.
The government continued: “As from May 4, Phase 0 of the de-escalation plan will allow for individuals to do exercise outdoors and for members of the same household to take a walk together outside.
“Urban and inter-regional transport services (i.e. coaches and trains) are operating at reduced levels.
“Travel to airports by road or rail to leave Spain is still permitted, but travellers may be asked to provide evidence that they are departing Spain (i.e. plane ticket).”
“Public gatherings are banned, most shops other than those selling food or other essential items such as pharmacies will be closed, many businesses and all schools and universities are closed, and all citizens have been instructed to remain at home except when going about a limited set of activities,” explained the FCO.
So how will the de-escalation measures be rolled out?
“While no specific dates have been attributed to each phase, it is estimated that each one will last for an initial period of two weeks from May 4,” clarified the FCO.
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