Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, CEO of Meliá and president of Exceltur. | Miquel À. Cañellas


Gabriel Escarrer, the CEO of Meliá Hotels International and president of the Exceltur alliance for tourism excellence, believes that there was a lack of "high-level diplomatic proactivity" by Spain in preventing the UK's quarantine decision. In Escarrer's opinion, the decision was "disproportionate" and taken for "political reasons and not epidemiological".

On Tuesday, Escarrer said that communications stressing the high levels of safety that Spain offers tourists need to be intensified. He referred to coronavirus data in the Balearics, Canaries, Andalusia and Valencia which are much lower than in the UK. The absence of an epidemiological basis "leads us to believe that the hasty decision of the British government was due to other reasons, probably political".

Escarrer joined in the criticism of Fernando Simón, the director of the Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies, who thanked Belgium and the UK for discouraging travel to Spain, as this would reduce the risk of importing Covid cases. "It is simply unacceptable for the government's scientific spokesperson to be making these statements, which go against all the efforts to maintain jobs. One would have expected him to have provided scientific arguments against the unjust and damaging decision of the British government."

In the case of Meliá, Escarrer explained that the UK quarantine may "compel" the company to suspend the reopening of hotels in destinations where UK tourism is particularly strong, such as Benidorm and the Balearics. This will result in revenue losses for destinations which have "already suffered greatly".

He did not think that the UK government's decision will have a "snowball effect" on other markets in the EU, "where we believe there is a spirit of collaboration and solidarity".