Coronavirus: perplexity by the Spanish seaside over the UK’s quarantine decision | World news


As he leans back in the large bar stool, Fernando Fraguas gestures around him.

The beach is lively but not crowded. The sea is rising and the temperature is warm. “It’s so beautiful here now; this is the perfect time to visit, ”he says.

Unless, of course, there’s a good reason Torremolinos beach is quiet. This time last year, the station was very busy with visitors from all over the world, and in particular from Great Britain.

Angry tourists come out of quarantine

Now the supply of visitors has decreased and, thanks to the decision of impose a quarantine of those returning from Spain to Britain, the numbers are on the verge of falling even further.

Fernando is the general manager of a bar located between the promenade and the beach. On the one hand, people pass masked; on the other hand, lounge chairs are socially distanced.

“We’ve done a lot in recent months to prepare,” he tells me. “Masks are mandatory. The number of cases here is very low – many, much lower than in Catalonia. He is sure to be here. ”

Like many seaside resorts in southern Spain, he says he is baffled by the British government’s decision. But he is also irritated and worried.

The Spanish economy relies heavily on tourism, which accounts for around 11% of the country’s gross domestic contribution.

And its most regular visitors are the British, who make more than 18 million trips a year. Or at least they did it the last time before coronavirus broke the industry.

Thus, of all the money generated in Spain, one in nine euros comes from tourism. And in places like Torremolinos, tourism’s dominance is much greater – and its declining health all the more biting.

UK ‘acted quickly’ on quarantine in Spain

“It’s so important because it’s our main industry,” says Fernando.

“We cannot change our tourism industry for another overnight. This is what we live for – or rather what we live for. ”

There are signs everywhere. At Malaga airport, security guard Jose Manuel says he is saddened by the canceled planes and those arriving with far fewer passengers than usual.

He tells me he is sorry for this region, but also for the Balearic Islands and the Canaries, where the reported cases are very low and where the dependence on tourism is even deeper.

Rob Springall rents vacation villas through his company, Anda Homes
Rob Springall rents vacation villas through his company, Anda Homes, in the resort

In the hills around Torremolinos, Rob Springall rents vacation villas through his company Anda Homes. It has already had a series of cancellations and fears are ahead.

“It’s the uncertainty that is so hard to deal with,” he says. “It’s a very difficult time, for people who come on vacation and also for the owners of these properties. ”

When I ask him about timing – about the lack of notice – he shakes his head and grimaces. “So much uncertainty – the worst thing,” he says.

And here is the problem.

It all seems uncertain, changeable and unpredictable – the power and spread of the virus, the rules of the UK government, the response of Spanish politicians and the ability of Spain to deal with this hammer blow to a crucial industry.

The balance of this type of political decision is always between panic and caution.

The distance traveled by the pendulum is only a matter of opinion.


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