Andalusia offers free ‘coronavirus insurance’ to entice holidaymakers back

Free holiday insurance will be offered to tourists in Andalusia as part of a drive to reignite demand in the region’s tourism industry amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Andalusia offers free 'coronavirus insurance' to entice holidaymakers back
Women wearing face masks walk along La Misericordia Beach in Malaga in July. Photo: AFP

Having already announced a voucher with a 25 percent reduction on trips for domestic tourists, Community Tourism Councillor Juan Marín announced this week that tourist insurance will cover hospital and hotel expenses for international travellers if they are infected by COVID-19 during their stay.

The measure will be introduced from January 1st 2021.

The offer is one tactic in a host of measures aimed at reigniting the region’s decimated tourism industry, and comes alongside the discounted voucher, announced recently.

The voucher, available to all Andalusian residents traveling within the region from October to May 2021, can be used up to a maximum of three times by booking trips with the hotels and travel agencies partaking in the initiative.

A total of 321 hotels and 379 agencies along with 112 tourist apartments have already committed to the scheme, according to sources from the Ministry of Tourism Regeneration, Justice and Local Administration.

UPDATED: What are the rules on travelling to Spain?

Andalusia is not the only Community in Spain covering the expenses of travellers in cases of coronavirus, however. 

The Canary Islands also adopted a travel insurance policy back in August to guarantee that tourists, both national and international, will have all expenses accrued by a COVID related incident including repatriation, medical expenses, and any stays in quarantine, covered by the scheme.

Spain has not only faced severe pressure on its medical services, being one of the world leaders in both cases and deaths, but the global shutdown has also had serious ramifications on its tourism industry and economy more broadly.

Just 204,926 international visitors visited Spain in June, a plummet of 97.7 percent from the same month the previous year, and tourist spending in the first half of the year decreased by 70.6 percent to just €11.84 billion.

The sector lost 27.3 million visitors and €28.4 billion in revenue during the first half of the year, and regional governments across Spain are now trying to come up with ways of enticing tourists, both domestic and international, back to Spain whilst ensuring they can do so safely. 

By Conor Patrick Faulkner

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US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Authorities in the USA have announced the end of the Covid-testing requirement for arrivals from Europe, meaning that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Europe and the US without needing pre-travel tests.

US to end Covid testing requirement for travellers from Europe

Most of Europe had dropped the testing requirement for fully-vaccinated arrivals in the spring, but the US has maintained the requirement to show proof of a negative test for all arrivals.

However on Friday, the Biden administration announced that it would not renew the testing requirement.

The new rule is expected to come into effect at 12.01 Sunday EDT, until then passengers will still need to show a negative Covid test before they can board a plane to the US.

The US currently bars unvaccinated travellers from entry – although this does not apply to US citizens, US residents or those travelling for essential reasons – there was no announcement on lifting this restriction. 

The CDC said that testing requirements could be reinstated if new variants of Covid emerge, and added that it continues to recommend pre-travel testing. 

Covid travel rules vary between individual countries in Europe, but most countries now only require pre-departure tests for unvaccinated travellers. Check the rules of the country you are travelling to for full details. 

To be counted as ‘fully vaccinated’ travellers must have received both doses of an EMA-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (or a single dose of Janssen).

If their vaccination was more than nine months ago, they need a booster shot in order to be considered fully vaccinated – people who have had a booster do not need a second, even if their booster shot was more than nine months ago.