Dr. Fernando Simón. | Efe

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The Mesa del Turismo, a body that comprises that some fifty leading businesspeople from Spain's tourism industry, has called for the resignation of the director of the Centre for Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, Dr. Fernando Simón. The association says that Simón is "celebrating the ruin of a sector that provides more than 12.5% of GDP and 13% of the country's employment".

The call for his resignation follows remarks made on Monday. Responding to a Belgian government recommendation that its citizens do not travel to Spain, Simón said that it would be better if they did not come, as they would be "taking a risk away from us". On the UK's quarantine, Simón's observation was similar. "From a health point of view these decisions help us."

The Mesa del Turismo has been critical of the Spanish government's efforts to revive tourism. But while these have been "insufficient", Simón's comments are "completely intolerable". The president, Juan Molas, says: "We cannot understand how a person who demonstrates this profound ignorance of the economy and the country's functioning can occupy a political position that all Spaniards pay for."

The opposition Partido Popular has also criticised Simón for "celebrating that tourists do not come to Spain", stressing that the country is safe and a "fantastic holiday destination".

The leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, is insisting that the Spanish government "rectifies" Simón's comments, adding that the recommendation not to travel to Spain is "reckless" for the tourism industry, which has "already collapsed because of the pandemic".