Head of the Costa del Sol’s tourism board, Lynn Mitchell, told BBC Radio 5 Live the Spanish holiday hotspot will be welcoming British tourists with open arms this summer. Mr Mitchell claimed the Andalusian holiday destination has been preparing for the last two months for a return of UK holidaymakers in complete safety and compliance with coronavirus social distancing rules. She said: “We have been working for the last two months on different protocols in collaboration with the hotel industry and with the national government and the regional government.
“We are very, very aware that the British market is our prime international market and they are very much missed.
“So right across the board, we will be waiting for them with arms open this summer.”
She added: “The Spanish Prime Minister has announced that from the 1st of July, and our partners, the airlines, the tour operators, we’re all ready to go for that return of our British visitors.
“Another aspect which is out of our control is naturally what decision the UK Government may take.
“That will have, I’m sure, an influence on our guests who wish to take the decision in the next month or so.
“But we’re fairly optimistic there will be a different policy and bear in mind that Andalusia, where the Costa del Sol is situated, has one of the lowest rate of contagion anywhere in Europe.”
However, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said he will be “vigorously championing British holidays” once tourism reopens as he prefers them to those overseas.
Mr Dowden told MPs that he will be “at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism” once the sector is ready to reopen, and said the Government’s target remains for this to happen in England “by 4 July”.
Pressed on the financial hardship that workers in seaside towns are facing with the lack of visitors, he added that he is working with the Chancellor Rishi Sunak at “looking at further measures”.
Tory Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) said research has shown that workers in seaside towns are “being laid off at the fastest rates of any areas of the UK”.
He added: “Will the Secretary of State look at greater flexibilities to allow the hospitality sector to open up sooner, particularly with outside premises, lobby the Chancellor to reduce the VAT rate on tourism to 5 percent and make sure that our great British seaside towns can start to recover by making staycations a practical option.
“And he is very welcome to visit the delights of Worthing for a staycation at any time.”
Mr Dowden replied: “I would be delighted to visit Worthing. Indeed I much prefer British holidays to holidays overseas so I would be delighted to visit his constituency and others.”
He added: “I’m working closely with my colleague the Chancellor and we will be looking at further measures.
“And of course once the sector is ready to go I’ll be at the forefront of championing the campaign for British tourism.”
Mr Dowden said: “As the Prime Minister has said, we have set this very ambitious target to try and get the sector back by 4 July, so long as it is safe to do so, and I am working to make that a reality.”
The Culture Secretary also expressed his appreciation for Cornwall and announced that the Government will be “investing extensively” in a major campaign to promote holidays to British seaside towns after the lockdown measures are further relaxed.
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Fellow Tory Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and Falmouth) added: “Residents in Truro and Falmouth understand how hugely important the tourism sector is to Cornwall, it supports one in five jobs in our county.”
She said: “Will Mr Dowden assures me that when it is safe to do so, the Government will join me in promoting Cornwall as a world-class tourist destination and ensure our businesses can get back on their feet as soon as possible?”
Mr Dowden replied: “Well I know Cornwall is a world-class tourist destination. I spent many happy holidays there as a child and indeed have taken my own children there on many occasions.
“I think it is really important that, as I said, we’re hoping to get tourism back as rapidly as possible, and when it is back we will be investing extensively ensuring we have a major campaign to encourage British people to take British staycations.”
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