LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Spain’s top diplomat pushed back Friday against French cautions over vacationing in the Iberian peninsula, as southern Europe’s holiday hotspots worry that repeated changes to rules on who can visit is putting people off travel.
On Thursday, France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Clément Beaune, advised people to “avoid Spain and Portugal as destinations” when booking their holidays because the French government is considering restrictions on travel to the Iberian neighbors, where COVID-19 infections are surging.
Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya said the current surge is not translating into more hospitalizations and urged people to be “proportionate” in their response to pandemic trends.
“This is a time for prudence, not for panicking,” she said at a press conference in Madrid. “There is no reason at the moment to ask people to cancel their vacations.”
Last month, Portuguese companies cheered when the country was placed on the U.K.’s “green list,” permitting British tourists to skip quarantine when returning home. Three weeks later, amid a surge in COVID-19 infections, Portugal was axed from the list and the British market dried up.
There are hopes this could change again after July 19, when the British government scraps the requirement for people going abroad to quarantine, as long as they are fully vaccinated.
Germany this week eased its recent strict restrictions on travel to Portugal, which had disheartened the Portuguese tourism sector. Now, a negative test is enough for Germans returning from holiday to avoid quarantining.
“Everyone keeps chopping and changing their rules,” Eliderico Viegas, head of Portugal’s Algarve Hotel and Resort Association, a representative body, said. “France, and before it Germany, are good examples of that.”
Portugal, like Spain, was expecting this summer to be less bad than last year. The French minister’s comments have changed that outlook, according to Viegas.
“There’s no doubt that demand will fall now,” he told the Associated Press.