UK tourists will now be allowed to enter the Canary Islands if they take a rapid Covid-19 antigen test. This is good news for travel agents who sell winter sun holidays to tourist hot spots such as Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Tenerife.
The decree, which goes against those currently in place by mainland Spain, by President Torres was published in the Official Gazette of the Canary Islands (BOC) on Wednesday afternoon and will come into force today (Thursday, December 10).
Currently, mainland Spain is requiring all Britons to take a full PCR test within 72 hours of travel. Tourists are obliged to show a negative PCR test which is not only more expensive it also takes longer to turnaround results.
Travel agents have reported that some holidaymakers have had to miss flights to the Canaries because their PCR test failed to come through the post in time.
Even the discounted postal PCR tests supplied by TUI and Jet2holidays are taking far longer than expected to turnaround the results leading to missed holidays. Agents fed up with having to rebook holidays had to insist clients book their test before booking a holiday.
However, holidaymakers are struggling too. With so much demand for a test, getting a timely appointment to have a PCR test in clinics and drive through test centres and Boots is proving a challenge. This is also true of testing at airports.
So this measure by the Canary Islands, whose regional government wants to make it easier for tourists to access testing, is very welcome. Antigen tests do not need to be sent to a lab for analysis so results can come back within hours rather than days.
The Canaries insist it has the authority to accept the antigen test as new cases of Covid amongst visitors – some 250,000 international tourists – over the past five weeks, has plummeted.