Germans Are Booking Mallorca Vacations Before Spain Even Opens

(Bloomberg) --

The severity of Spain’s coronavirus outbreak and uncertainty about travel options hasn’t deterred many German tourists from booking a trip to enjoy the Mediterranean sun in one of the nation’s most popular destinations.

With the Balearic Islands still emerging from a strict lockdown, 15% of German tourists who booked their summer vacation through online travel company eDreams Odigeo SA chose the islands’ capital Palma de Mallorca. It’s the top-ranked destination ahead of Thessaloniki in Greece at 7% and Turkish city Istanbul at 6%.

The impact of the pandemic in the Balearics has been milder than elsewhere in Spain, which has suffered the most extensive outbreak in continental Europe. The regional government is trying to attract travelers from Germany, where authorities also appeared to bring the virus under control relatively quickly.

“If a German region has the same conditions as the Balearics, the risk for a tourist is the same here as at home, so their trip should be made easier,” Iago Negueruela, the head of the regional economy and tourism department, said in an interview.

More Germans tourists visited the Balearic Islands in 2019 than from any other nation, making up about a fourth of the 16.5 million who traveled to the region.

Their presence this year, although more limited, would be a boost for the battered tourist sector. The regional government estimates that the pandemic will deprive the islands of around 9.3 billion euros ($10.4 billion) in income, or one third of their gross domestic product, and will cut employment by 29%.

Health Protocols

The islands have put health protocols in place for travelers and have held talks with German tour operator TUI AG and with local industry group TSS to prepare for a further easing of restrictions, Negueruela said.

“What’s more important for us is the epidemiological criteria,” he added. “We’re in the EU and our sole access points are airports and harbors, so we can check travelers coming from everywhere. What we need are homogeneous European criteria.”

The region also needs an extension of a furlough program approved by the government that is due to expire on June 30, Negueruela said. “There’s no other scenario, we’ve no capacity to replace in three months a sector which is 25% of our GDP,” he said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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