The German travel warning for Mallorca poses almost unsolvable problems for the tourism industry there. Health Minister Spahn expresses understanding, but remains tough on the matter. Hoteliers are now expecting closings. Some still believe in miracles.

Hotel entrepreneurs in Mallorca are prepared for the worst after the German travel warning. “I’m condemned to close. My only customer is Tui. If the hotel is emptied in a week, I have to close in ten days,” the newspaper “Diario de Mallorca” quoted a hotelier in Playa de Palma on Sunday.

This area with its many hotels would lose its meaning and importance without the German vacationers. “In a week or ten days everything will be empty here,” the newspaper quotes another entrepreneur. With the German veto against trips to Mallorca, the worst fears would have come true. The newspaper wrote that it was a “death blow” for tourism .

A minus of 98 percent

The slump in the tourism business is already historic. In the past record year, more than 16 million domestic and foreign holidaymakers came to the Balearic Islands , which also includes Mallorca. The income was more than 16 billion euros. This year earnings were close to zero through the end of May due to the lockdown. From June, holidaymakers from the EU and Schengen countries were allowed to enter again.

But only a few came and the income was like a drop in the bucket: almost 43.5 million euros, a decrease of a good 98 percent compared to the same month last year. At the same time, the costs of hotels, restaurants and nightspots designed for mass tourism continue to run. This is not economically viable for long. In normal times, the industry contributes 35 percent to the islands’ economic output.

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) expressed understanding for the difficult situation, but remained tough in terms of risk areas and travel warnings . The minister said on Saturday that he knows what this government decision means for many vacationers, for travel agencies or for Spain. “But unfortunately the number of infections is increasing there, too much.”

In the ARD, Spahn emphasized that a travel warning is not a travel ban. You can and should continue your vacation, but be vigilant, keep your distance, observe hygiene rules and wear everyday masks in certain situations. “The virus doesn’t go on vacation. That’s why we have to take good care of each other on vacation.”

Package tourists can terminate the travel contract

On Friday, the federal government extended the travel warning that had previously applied to some Spanish regions to the entire Spanish mainland and the Balearic Islands including Mallorca. Only the Canary Islands are excluded from the travel warning, which allows package tourists to terminate the travel contract free of charge.

German holidaymakers are pretty relaxed about the situation. The three friends Sabine, Alex and Renate from Hildesheim only arrived in Mallorca on Saturday morning. “We saw on the Internet yesterday evening that Mallorca is now a risk area. But our bags were already packed, there was no other option,” says 29-year-old Renate. They definitely don’t want to spoil their holiday mood. That could well work, because the Balearic Islands with Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera have not been as empty and relaxed as this year for decades.

Canaries are not considered a risk area

Local business people tend to be in a bad mood. He would have wished for “more solidarity” from the German side, says Juan Miguel Ferrer, operator of a restaurant on Playa de Palma. He would have found it better if experts from Germany had examined the situation on site instead of just basing their decisions on statistics. After all, a holiday destination like Playa de Palma with lots of bars in the open air is a low-risk area.

The statistics of the island’s own government are clear. The number of new infections during seven days is clearly above the limit of 50 per 100,000 inhabitants – that is the most important criterion for the decision whether a region or a country is classified as a risk area. The border will also be torn on mainland Spain, just not in the Canary Islands. The archipelago in the Atlantic is therefore not a risk area and excluded from the travel warning.

The regional tourism minister Iago Negueruela practiced optimism. Local media reported that he was convinced that the corona numbers would soon fall and that the restrictions would then be lifted again. The entrepreneur Ferrer is also hoping for a miracle. “If we manage to reduce the numbers again, we hope that the season will be extended and that cyclists and other tourist groups will still come in October,” he said. However, there were initially no signs that the corona numbers were falling and that Germany would soon lift the travel warning again.

Corona test after returning

According to the German Travel Association (DRV), there are currently around 30,000 German package tourists in the Balearic Islands. However, there is still no overview of how many vacationers wanted to leave early in the next few days, said a DRV spokesman. According to the DRV, all tour operators will cancel planned trips to the destinations affected by the travel warning in the coming days. This is part of the standard procedure after a travel warning, which does not mean a travel ban, but allows package tourists to terminate the travel contract free of charge.

For returnees from corona risk areas, it has generally been the case for a few weeks now that they have to report to the health department and provide information about symptoms and a possible corona test. Since last weekend, a mandatory test has been in effect when returning home: If you do not have a negative test result from shortly before departure, you have to be tested after arriving in Germany.

That means: Either you can be tested in the holiday country no more than 48 hours before departure and you submit a negative proof in German or English. You have to pay for tests abroad yourself. Or you can have yourself tested after returning to Germany, which is free for three days.


Emily Wong

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