Turkey, one of the competitors seeking an advantage. | Archive

There is more worrying news for the Balearic tourism industry. With the hotel sector calling for the vaccination programme to be urgently speeded up so the islands can be sold as a “safe destination”, competing destinations appear to be ahead of the game.

German and British tour operators have announced that Greece and Turkey will start the tourist season before the Balearics because their anti-COVID vaccination plans are more advanced and without so many problems.

TUI, Jet2, EasyJet Holidays, Alltours, FTI, Schauinsland and the rest of the tourist groups have set themselves the objective of being able to start their summer programming as soon as possible, but this will depend on the health evolution in their own countries and in popular holiday destinations. The Turkish and Greek governments have set June as a deadline by which the maximum percentage possible of the population needs to have been vaccinated in order to establish safe corridors with the main European source markets. The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is all too aware that his tourism industry must be reactivated as soon as possible, was vaccinated last Thursday in Ankara.

Turkey has opted for the vaccine developed by the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac (Coronavac) and is not dependent on the restrictions that Pfizer or Moderna currently impose on the European Union.

Greece is in its third week of vaccination and Athens wants to have 70% of its population immunized before the summer. The objective is to be able to offer the country as a safe holiday destination in the Mediterranean and compete with the Balearics and other tourist areas, such as Croatia and Malta.

The Croatian government will soon have available an amount of approximately €202 million to support companies of all sizes in the sectors of tourism and sports, including accommodation and restaurants, which have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Commission has approved the amount for the Croatian state aid scheme to support the sectors of tourism and sports affected by the pandemic. Commenting on the decision to allocate this money to Croatia, the Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, noted that the pandemic has hit Croatian companies hard in the tourism and sports sectors.

The Balearic Minister for Tourism and Employment, Iago Negueruela, is aware that competing destinations are locked in a race to see who can open first. “We demand that the Spanish government complies with the vaccine supply plan and guarantees deadlines in order to reduce the epidemiological rate in the Balearic Islands and recover economic activity as soon as possible.”

The hotel employers, road transport companies, travel agencies, the hire car sector, restaurants, the complementary offer and airlines are asking for a safe framework and demand that the vaccination campaign be continuous, as we head towards the summer and seek not to lose a share of the market to Greece and Turkey. “Establishing safe corridors is the goal of the Balearic tourism sector and they must be achieved before summer.”

The main vaccines at the moment are those of Pfizer and Moderna, but soon Brussels will have to make agreements with other pharmaceutical companies that make anti-Covid vaccines, such as AstraZeneca, in order to speed up the programme.

Egypt is also working on a quick recovery. The Egyptian Minister of Petroleum Tarek El-Molla has announced a reduction in aviation fuel prices as part of a government initiative to support the country’s tourism sector. In an official statement, El-Molla stated that the programme would cut aviation fuel prices to 15 cents per gallon, adding that it would go into effect “starting on 21 January until the end of the year”. “The initiative comes as part of the Egyptian government’s efforts to revive the country’s tourism and aviation sectors, which plunged following the outbreak of coronavirus.”

Egyptian Minister of Tourism Khaled El-Anany says that the move will increase tourist influx to Egypt through “stimulating international air carriers to increase the number of daily trips to Egypt’s tourist destinations; civil aviation activity has a direct impact on the Egyptian tourism sector”.