TUI, the largest tour operator in Europe, is willing to throw the house out the window to try to clean up the large accumulated losses (2,000 million euros between October 2019 and June 2020) since the coronavirus health crisis broke out. And it has directed the spotlight on the Canary Islands, the only place in Europe that meets the two essential conditions to welcome tourists in winter: good weather and a controlled sanitary situation.
Despite the fact that the German Executive continues to demand a 14-day quarantine for those travelers who go to the Canary Islands (unless they prove a negative PCR from the fifth day), TUI is flying from October 3 to the Canary Islands with a daily operation In order for all pilots to add hours of activity and be available from December 1, the date on which the high season will start. Flights from the United Kingdom are de facto suspended for the 15-day quarantine set by the Executive of Boris Johnson, although some airlines, such as the case of Jet2 has already set the return of operations with the Canary Islands for November.
TUI’s attack to boost tourism is going by air and also by sea. TUI Cruises, the tour operator’s cruise division, has been one of the two cruise companies (the other is Hapag Lloyd) that has received authorization from the Government of the Canary Islands to resume operations as of November 5. The TUI Cruises roadmap establishes a schedule of two weekly cruises in November and four weekly from November, of which two will go to the German market and another two also to the United Kingdom. In the case of the United Kingdom, the flights will depart from Bournemouth and will land in Gran Canaria or Tenerife. From the airport, travelers will be transferred to the port and there they will start the boat trip for seven days, with prices ranging between 800 euros per person for November, 715 euros per person in December or 1,350 euros per person for the first week of January. .
Alfredo Serrano, general director of the International Association of Cruise Lines in Spain (CLIA, for its acronym in English), assures that the return of the boats to the Canary Islands is good news after six months of stops, but that shows the delay in the decisions, since Germany already did it four months ago and Italy two ago. “That is the good part; the bad news is that we do not have a common regulatory framework and that can lead us to impose different rules for each autonomy ”.
The first estimates emphasize that the cruises of both companies could bring up to 400,000 tourists between November and May to the Canary Islands. Serrano recalls that in 2019 there were more than 2.5 million travelers and that the target set barely represents 16% of the total. The cruises will be limited to the seven Canary Islands and will not be able to connect with other areas, such as Cape Verde or Madeira.
The conditions to guarantee safety on the journeys will be set by the cruise passenger. These can only be European, since the Government of the Canary Islands assumes that they are the companies that have signed the strictest protocols.
The agreement signed between the shipping companies and the Government of the Canary Islands establishes the obligation to carry out a PCR or serological test with a negative result before boarding, a maximum occupancy of 70% and that there is a device ready to deal with positives on land or perform quarantines. The first ships to cruise between the islands will be TUI’s Mein Schiff 2, which will depart from the port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Hapag Lloyd’s Europa 2, departing from Santa Cruz de Tenerife.