Additional reporting by Rita Sobot
The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago off the coast of northwestern Africa which include British holiday hotspots Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria. The islands, which usually make most of their revenue from the tourism trade, are planning to move into the next phase of the coronavirus de-escalation plan on Monday which means that hotels, small shops, restaurants and bar terraces will all open. However, despite the popular islands re-opening their hotels, shops and bars, Britons may be last on the list for being able to visit the nations.
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As airports and ports remain closed, Tenerife may well remain out of bounds to British holidaymakers.
Instead, the islands will rely on local and regional tourism before tourists from other destinations like the UK can return.
Currently, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential international travel “indefinitely” for Britons.
But with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Sunday looking likely to explain the UK’s lockdown exit strategy, travel restriction updates could be just on the horizon.
The Canary Islands have barely been hit by the deadly virus compared to the UK and other parts of Europe.
There have been more than 3.9million cases of COVID-19 worldwide so far with more than 271,000 deaths.
Spain has had the worst case rate in Europe with 256,855 cases but the UK has had the most deaths in Europe with 30,615.
In comparison, the Canary Islands has had 2,240 positive infections and 148 deaths.
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Of those deaths,105 were in Tenerife, 36 were in Gran Canaria and four were in Lanzarote.
Popular holiday destination Fuerteventura has recorded no deaths.
Phase one which will come into play on Monday in the Canary Islands will see hotels being opened and people allowed to gather in groups with a maximum of 10 people.
However, terraces of bars and restaurants will also be able to open with a capacity of 50 percent, which in June will then include interiors.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce of the Government of the Canary Islands, Yaiza Castilla said business leaders were currently coming up with plans to help the tourism sector recover.
The plans will include every part of the travel chain from arrivals to departures.
The special measures will be put in place to make sure holidaymakers feel comfortable and stay safe, as well as making sure the virus does not spread further.
The 18-point plan will be put in place in June and include the regular sanitation of everything from airports to theme parks.
Tourists will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 before they board a plane and expected to use apps and technology to help trace them.
Ms Castilla said: “There will need to be a complete redesign of processes of the entire value chain of tourism activity, creating and verifying protocols for each service and minimising any risk in order to transmit health security to visitors and residents.”
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has predicted a global loss of 75 million jobs and $2.1trillion in revenue from the tourism industry.
The UK tourism industry makes £127billion each year but could expect a 55 percent loss in inbound tourism income in 2020, according to VisitBritain.
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