A woman wearing a protective mask is seen on the beach as the regional government of the Canary Islands forbids smoking without maintaining a safe distance and makes mandatory to wear protective masks in open public spaces, during the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gran Canaria, Spain. | BORJA SUAREZ


The Canary Islands authorities said on Thursday they hoped to be seen as a safe territory by more countries after Germany decided it was no longer a high risk area for the spread of the coronavirus.

The Atlantic archipelago, located off southern Morocco, is a rare warm destination in winter in Europe, a season that accounts for half of its annual tourism revenues.

“This arrives at a crucial and very important moment, just when our high winter season is about to start, which opens good expectations from this (German) market,” regional tourism secretary Yaiza Castilla said of Berlin’s move.

Germany on Thursday issued travel warnings for popular ski regions in Austria, Italy and Switzerland aiming to try to contain the coronavirus, but took the Canary Islands off its list of high risk areas.

The ratio of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the Canary Islands fell by more than half since early September to 81 per 100,000 residents, while in Navarra, the country’s hotspot, the ratio has more than tripled to more 1,000 per 100,000 people.

“I’m convinced we’ll soon exit other countries’ warning lists and we will be a totally safe territory with green lights,” Castilla said in an audio statement sent to reporters.

Belgium has one of the Canary Islands, La Palma, in green code,” meaning it is seen as a safe destination, while it has various degrees of travel warnings for all other areas in Europe.

The tourism industry in Spain, which accounts for more than 12% of the economy, was ravaged during the summer by the pandemic and the travel restrictions imposed to curb it.

On Wednesday, Spain became the first European country to report 1 million COVID-19 cases, and on yesterday the government warned the pandemic was out of control in parts of the country.