People sunbathe and swim on El Arenal beach.

People sunbathe and swim on El Arenal beach, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, in Mallorca.

18-03-2021ENRIQUE CALVO

Tens of thousands of Germans are planning last-minute Easter getaways to Mallorca's sun-kissed island, leaving many Spaniards, who are not allowed to do the same because of a travel ban, upset.

"It makes absolutely no sense that in Spain we can't move between regions but any foreigner can come in ... and spread infection," said Emilio Rivas, 23, who lives in Madrid.

The young tax assessor wanted to get out of town for the holidays but must instead stay home because Spain banned travel between regions over Easter to avoid a repeat of a spike in contagion seen after an easing in restrictions over Christmas.

But tourists from European countries with higher infection rates like France or Germany can fly in for a holiday as long as they have a negative covid test result - something even top health official Fernando Simon described as "incongruous."

As soon as Berlin last week lifted a quarantine requirement for travellers returning from the Balearic islands, demand for flights to the archipelago soared, with tourists from France and elsewhere also conspicuous on the streets of Madrid.

The German government still advises against non-essential travel, however. "The lack of a travel warning is not an invitation to travel," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said earlier this week.

Retired Madrid resident Angelines Ruiz complained of having to stay put after cancelling a trip to the western region of Extremadura.

"On top of that I'm afraid of going anywhere in case I get infected by one of these French or Germans," said Ruiz, 76.

Spain's infection rate is at its lowest since August.

NO FREE BOOZE

Despite widespread grumbling from Spaniards, the return of sun-seeking Germans will provide a welcome shot in the arm to the ailing tourism industry after foreign visitors to Spain fell 80% to 19 million in 2020, the lowest level since 1969.

In 2020 the industry's contribution to gross domestic product tumbled to between 4% and 5%, according to estimates from the Funcas think-tank from a 12% share in 2019.

Hotels and holiday lets in Germany are barred from renting to tourists, leaving foreign vacations as the only option.

Lufthansa's low-cost Eurowings airline added 300 extra flights from all over Germany to Mallorca for Easter in response to a fourfold jump in bookings after the quarantine lifting, while Ryanair announced 200 extra connections to Mallorca and Alicante.

TUI Germany, said Easter bookings were double 2019 levels and some of the company's Mallorca hotels were already fully booked.

Communications chief at TUIfly Aage Duenhaupt said the influx would not lead to rowdiness, and nightclubs in German resorts would remain closed.

"There won't be the party holidays," he said. "They have even cancelled the free alcohol in the all-inclusive hotels."

Responding to the sudden surge in bookings, Balearic authorities said they welcomed the new wave of tourists and would strictly enforce the requirement for a negative PCR test.

"It is not a problem that people come to the Balearic Islands. We test everyone and will continue to do so as long as health security requires," a health department spokeswoman said.

At Duesseldorf airport, travellers heading to the Balearics were sympathetic with Spaniards' discontent.

"I can understand totally how the Spanish feel, to travel in corona times is really a privilege," said Mallorca-bound passenger Donata, who did not give her second name. "The whole thing is a bit irresponsible."

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Teri / Hace 7 months

It's going to be the same with the Brits too. The way I see it, Spain won't have its residents vaccinated until the Fall or even winter since we are so far behind. In Barcelona, they are still doing 80+ year old residents. They started in December.

So, other nationals will be able to come to Spain, do whatever they want, and people that live here will continue in these lockdowns. Horrible.

Yet, despite how the Spanish love to protest, they are oddly quiet and subdued about this horrible lack of leadership.

The entire EU is at risk now simply because they wanted to haggle over vaccine prices and couldn't secure vaccinations for their people. As far as I'm concerned, the people that get ruined financially (or die!) from this, are directly attributed to the lack of leadership.

+2-

Rich / Hace 7 months

Will it be possible for us to sue armengol and her crew for gross negligence and loss of wages etc when this decision leads to more restrictive measures, or are they immune from prosecution? It's time this ramshackle mob were held to account.

+5-

jon / Hace 7 months

Very simple. Germany tourist companies control Mallorca. If they say we're open for busy,we have too. Doesn't matter how bad the rising cases are. It happened last spring with the pilot scheme,it's happening again.

+1-

compo / Hace 7 months

Editor, could you please write an article explaining what the Mallorcan government's thinking is? From over here (UK) it appears that Mallorca has opened its doors to Germany despite Germany going into a third wave with rising case numbers and deaths and with minimal vaccines administered. At the same time, give it only a few weeks more and Brits will be travelling from a country with low and declining cases and almost the entre adult population vaccinated. But thanks to the German policy, by the time 'safe tourists' can come, Mallorca will be locking down again because of the virus it has imported from Germany

It seems like a suicide pact for the Mallorcan economy but there must be some logic behind it that I genuinely don't understand!

+19-

Paco / Hace 7 months

If it wasn't such a serious ill thought through mistake, it would at the very best be a farce. We are plagued with irresponsibly.

+10-

James T / Hace 7 months

So, they're not allowed to travel within Germany, but they're fine to travel to Spain!?!! I'd like to know if this decision was made out of greed or stupidity...

+14-

Britbabe / Hace 7 months

This only goes to prove that, to some people, money is more important than their fellow man. A sad state of affairs.

+10-

Colin Allcars / Hace 7 months

Further proof that EU member states must do what their German masters tell them, if further proof was needed.

+8-

tom / Hace 7 months

Hi Lisa , all governments are thowing all precautions in the wind to early and common sense simply to get a share for their countries of the tourism economy . An economy that is the most unsafe for pandemic times . Wish governments would focus more on all the other industries and economies and not only focus on tourism , as tourism wont save all economies, and only really benefits the few who own those companies. Your predicted disaster will come. Places like Mallorca will be shut around mid summer as a new major corona hot spot.

+9-

Lisa / Hace 7 months

Strange equation - covid infection rising in Germany, plus Germans allowed to travel to Mallorca, who have a mostly unvaccinated population.

Equals - disaster.

+61-