'We're safe and ready for Britons': Balearic Islands push to allow UK tourists in for summer

3 May 2021, 18:08 | Updated: 3 May 2021, 21:28

British tourists could be welcomed back to the Balearic Islands as soon as this month, according to a senior Spanish official.

Rosa Ana Morilla Rodriguez, director general of tourism for the islands, told Sky News that she was "very optimistic" that a deal could be agreed to open the Balearics to British holidaymakers.

She said she was hopeful that the islands - Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera - could be included on the UK's "green list" of countries, which is due to come into force from 17 May.

That designation would mean British tourists would not have to quarantine on their return home, seen as crucial for attracting holidaymakers back to overseas locations.

"We have the right numbers, we have the right measures in place that will allow us to be considered 'green'," said Ms Morilla Rodriguez.

"It's also about the capability of your hospitals to isolate different variants of the virus, which is something that is not done by all the hospitals in Spain, but we do it here.

"I think Mallorca is such an important destination for the UK that I'm confident we could have this travel corridor. We have told the British ambassador that we have all the factors needed to be considered 'green' for the UK."

In 2019, nearly four million British people came on holiday to one of the four Balearic islands - Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Formentera. Most of those came to Mallorca, making it one of Britain' s most popular destinations, with around 2.5m visitors in the year before the pandemic took hold.

That number fell by 93% in 2020 - an even bigger fall than that suffered by mainland Spain.

But now, with infection rates falling on the islands, the Balearics are desperate to re-establish links with British holidaymakers.

A relatively small number of European tourists have already started returning to resorts across the islands, taking advantage of the free movement available to citizens within Europe's Schengen zone.

In a normal year, Germany sends even more tourists to the Balearics than the UK, although resorts such as Magaluf are almost entirely dependent on British visitors.

"We are safe and completely ready to welcome back British visitors," said Ms Morilla Rodriguez.