Alicante is one of the most popular international destinations among British tourists keen to start booking holidays for when travel restrictions are eased. EasyJet, TUI, Jet2.com and Thomas Cook are just some of the leading airline and holiday companies that have reported a significant increase in interest by British clients, even before prime minister Boris Johnson officially announced the UK government’s “roadplan” out of the COVID lockdown measures – and, eventually, a reopening of borders with Europe.
The Costa Blanca’s climate, beaches, gastronomy, leisure activities, inland attractions and golfing amenities are considered key in encouraging British tourists to book flights to Alicante-Elche Airport.
Johnson’s plan was greeted with “moderate optimism” by travel agent associations now looking forward to international flight connections with the UK being re-launched towards the end of May – in time for the summer season.
Ramón Estalella, secretary-general of the Spanish Confederation of Hotels and Tourist Accommodation (CEHAT), said he was “very optimistic” because in the UK “many people have been vaccinated, who have not been able to travel for two years and need sun and beach and the chance to return to their traditional destinations”.
According to Valencia regional hotel association Hosbec, a survey by travel agency Icelolly found that Alicante was attracting more searches than other popular tourist resort areas such as Mallorca and Crete. Most people were seeking holidays in September, although a significant number were also considering July and August. Demand continues to exist, said Hosbec secretary general Nuria Montes, and “in this case the Costa Blanca is still in the minds of Britons”.
Spain as a whole maintains its premier ranking among tourists. A report by the European Travel Commission (a Brussels-based association of national tourism organisations) concluded that 10 per cent of Europeans ranked Spain as their first-choice destination for holidays from May, followed by Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Vueling Flights to Copenhagen
Meanwhile, Vueling has announced that it plans to launch a new route from Alicante-Elche Airport to Copenhagen from 19 June, with three weekly flights – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The airline company, part of the International Airlines Group, says it wants to boost its commitment to the Nordic market, which is “of great interest for the tourism sector”.
COVID Testing Clinics
Alicante-Elche is one of 15 airports in Spain where the national airport operator Aena has leased out areas for COVID-19 testing clinics. The aim of the diagnostic facilities is to provide quick PCR, antigenic and serological tests to detect both active infections and COVID-19 antibodies. Established in the departure lounges, the clinics have special isolation areas for travellers waiting for their results.
According to Aena, the clinics are initially being set up for six months but this could be extended until the end of 2021. The agreement for Alicante-Elche Airport has been signed with laboratory testing and diagnostics company Eurofins.
The clinics are for “passengers who will need (tests) in their destination airports, not for those who land in our airports, who will need to bring their tests from their places of origin to pass the health controls in place since May across our network”.
Other airports included in the initiative are Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga-Costa del Sol, Sevilla, Valencia, Bilbao, Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca, Tenerife Sur, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, César Manrique-Lanzarote and La Palma.