The tourist test pilot plan has descended into a farce. When Pedro Sánchez announced on Sunday that borders will be reopening earlier than had previously been stated, my reaction was that this almost makes the pilot plan redundant. What purpose does a week of this plan serve? There was, for me, always a question mark over the value of it being a fortnight or so, but a week?
One of the opposition parties, El Pi, has suggested that the Spanish government, having moved the border-reopening goalposts, has “dynamited” the plan. Maybe so, but the government certainly hasn’t done this deliberately. The Sunday statement by the prime minister may have come as a surprise, but the government had been under pressure from Brussels to open the borders, and let’s not forget that Brussels has an enormous pot of funds for Spain’s tourism industry.
President Armengol denied that the government’s decision was a “setback” for the Balearics, but she couldn’t surely have genuinely welcomed it, given how much political mileage the president has been seeking to extract from a scheme that had initially been proposed by the hoteliers.
But how authentic is this pilot plan? One of the German tour operators, DER Touristik, is saying that it isn’t sending any tourists. Those arriving in Majorca are technical personnel who have been contracted to check on the health guarantees. It has also been suggested that some of the “tourists” staying in hotels are in fact hotel company employees who have been given two-night-stay freebies.