Tit-for-tat quarantines

By | Category: Travel rumblings

There seems to be a tit-for-tat attitude amongst EU countries at the moment.

Shipwrech beach in Zakynthos
Navagio Beach (Shipwreck beach) on Zakynthos in Greece. Ferry serices to Greek islands resumed at the weekend.

After the UK announced that they would impose a 14-day quarantine period on people entering the countries, (unless you are coming from Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) France and Greece have announced similar restrictions.

Spain had already imposed a 14 day period on any visitor entering the country but that will be lifted as from July 1st. It appears that UK residents may be able to travel there. On Sunday, the finance minister said that the Spanish government would enter negotiations with those countries that are responsible for the largest numbers of visitors to Spain. The UK was included in that list.

Greece had offered to waive the quarantine restrictions if the UK agreed to do the same. I imagine that the UK government didn’t agree and that is why Greece announced on Monday that the quarantine would stay.

Obviously, behind the scenes, countries are trying to negotiate the UK’s quarantine restrictions away for, quite frankly, economic reasons. They need the substantial numbers of Britons that travel and spend. The urgency in the EU, as the summer tourist season approaches, is obvious

Taking Greece as an example, some 3 million Britons would travel there in a normal year and ,in 2018, the World Bank says that 30 million international tourists visited Greece. Britons, therefore, make up about 10% of all overseas tourists.

In Spain, 2018 saw 82,773,000 overseas visitors and Britons made up almost 22% of the total. France had 89 million international visitors and about 10% were from the UK. Portugal receives over 16 million international visitors and the UK contributes about 12.5% of all of those.

British visitors to Cyprus are even greater being responsible for about a quarter of all international visitors. In Malta, British visitors make up slightly less than a fifth of all overseas visitors to the island and even though the UK provides less than 5% of international visitors to Germany and Italy that is still a considerable number.

You can see that British visitor numbers are important to these EU countries.  Are EU countries really going to stand firm given the potential loss of the monies that British tourist would bring to their countries?

The grandstanding will soon end. Tit-for-tat policies benefit neither party. And economics may be more important than health.

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