Close a country or a region?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Both Spain and Portugal have expressed annoyance at the way that the British government announced a travel advice against visiting the whole of both countries.

The Playa la Puntilla in La Gomera, one of the Canary Isles with few outbreaks yet which we cannot visit.

It seemed unfair given that both had islands which had few cases and fatalities yet they were branded with the same brush as with the mainland.

The Balearics, the Canaries, Madeira and the Azores all see large numbers of British tourists yet now they may only see who can afford to quarantine on their return and who aren’t concerned about whether their travel insurance was valid or not.

Now the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has waded into the argument by saying that only regional border measures should be imposed and then only if it is essential. What they don’t want to see is a nation’s whole economy being brought to its knees by a complete ban.

But governments remember the WHO (World Health Organization) advice from right at the beginning of the pandemic about not closing borders and what happened? Tourist and travellers transported the virus around the world.

It would be easy to say that the WTTC was more concerned about a nation’s health rather than the health of its citizens but that is too glib an answer.

As it points out, during 2019 tourism and travel was responsible for one in 10 jobs of all jobs in the world (330 million total) and made a 10.3% contribution to global GDP. In some countries like Spain, Italy and some Caribbean countries it is much higher.

Governments – particularly those with upcoming elections – are probably more wary in the short term of their voters and they will be unforgiving if numbers rise and lockdowns result. The inhabitants of overseas nations don’t have the vote. End of argument

In the UK and Germany (which has also imposed similar travel advice on Spain) tourism doesn’t play such an important part yet nonetheless it remains significant.

What concerns them is that travellers and holidaymakers will drive around or go on a tour to areas that might have outbreaks.

That is less likely to happen on islands. They might island hop but taking a twin centre holiday including the mainland is much less likely.

So, returning to the original thoughts, why can’t destinations with offshore islands be treated differently? In this instance the WTTC seems to have a strong case.

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