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As reported today
Ángel Víctor Torres: “We must show that the Canary Islands is a safe destination that offers guarantees”
The President of the Canary Islands analyses the current situation of the islands affected by an unprecedented economic and health crisis
The President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, gave an extensive interview to the Lancelot newspaper that was published in its paper edition for December . In it, he talked about tourism, the covid pandemic, the economic crisis that it has generated, immigration and many other current issues. We publish a first part of it that we will expand in the coming days
-With what tools can the Canary Islands face by 2021, given the tourism situation?
-As long as the pandemic lasts and the vaccines or treatments against COVID-19 have not been universalized and extended enough, with high levels of efficacy, we must continue to live with the coronavirus and minimize its health and other effects to the maximum. To do this, as we have been emphasizing for months, we must first control the number of cases, infections, and the accumulated incidence in the Islands, so that tourist-sending countries do not impose restrictions on us and the flow of travelers, not without some other difficulty, they can be activated progressively. We depend on what happens in our land and on the health situation in the main emitting countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Scandinavia …), among other factors.
The first, the sanitary control in the Canary Islands of COVID-19, for now we have achieved it, and we have even been praised abroad and by the Spanish Minister of Health for the levels of control of the coronavirus reached in the Islands. We have even approved the first protocol of the country, via regional decree law, so that they come to the Islands with a negative COVID-19 test or these are done upon arrival in the Canary Islands, although key countries for us, such as Germany or Great Britain, have had to confine by how they are now suffering from the virus.
The path is clear: we have to attract the maximum number of tourists from other countries with the highest possible security measures; show that the Canary Islands is a safe destination and offers health guarantees, and take advantage of this time to modernize and further digitize the tourism sector, something essential for us.
To meet these purposes of gradual recovery of the main engine of the island economy, the Plan Reactiva Canarias, as well as other initiatives of the central government or the EU, is crucial. To this must be added the possibility of extending as long as necessary the instruments provided to protect workers, such as ERTE or aid for the self-employed. Undoubtedly, times are being very difficult, but the Canary Islands have not stopped in the search for solutions and the Islands may be one of the few safe European destinations if we continue to control the pandemic and thereby help to save as much as possible the winter season.
Since the vaccines are extended and the disease is controlled, I am convinced that the Islands will consolidate as what they have always been: a world leading destination in tourism.
-And the tourist corridors… when are they going to start?
-I insist that this is a very complex situation that affects the whole world and, especially, the tourism sector (airlines, tour operators, hoteliers, services in general …). From the beginning, the Canary Islands have been clear about what should be done from the EU, with tests at origin and the maximum possible security, as is now supported by the Government of Spain with the requirement of PCR at origin. The corridors have not been activated, mainly due to the evolution of the pandemic in the most powerful emitting countries for the Canary Islands. It has been more of their problem than of us.
Now, with the protocol that we have already approved, we became the first Spanish region to regulate safe tourism and, had it not been for the evolution of COVID-19 in decisive countries for us, as I have said, we would have already been seeing results since this November. We will have to wait, although tourists from Scandinavia and other areas not yet confined or from countries with low risk can come, but with those negative PCRs since November 23.
-What will the Canary Islands live on if tourism does not rebound in the winter season?
-The situation is undoubtedly complex, but it is in all places. The scale of the problem is global. Apart from the aid to the self-employed, companies and the rest of the measures, the ERTE in the Canary Islands represent the highest percentage of all the Spanish communities, precisely because of the weight of our tourism and because we are active all year round. Those records have helped many islanders and cannot be ignored or forgotten. And if they have to be extended from next January, it will be done.
I am confident that the situation will improve in those emitting countries and in the end we can save part of the winter season in the Islands, and that from there we will connect with a good summer and we will gradually recover the activity of our main economic engine .
Meanwhile, public protection aimed at the productive fabric, the groups of workers affected and the most vulnerable people will be maintained with the utmost attention. Recovery will come and will be progressive, not overnight. No one is going to be left behind; we will be with all the people and especially with the most vulnerable groups.
The Canary Islands put its main economic focus, almost the only one, on tourism. Beyond possible excesses and things that have to be corrected, that has not been bad for the development of the Islands because we have achieved a very competitive and world-leading sector. But now, after this unpredictable and planetary pandemic, it cannot be expected that we can change the weight of the economic subsectors of our Islands in a few months, overnight. What happened should make us reflect and in that work, that of economic diversification, we are already, for example, with the Plan Reactiva Canarias. We have a different legal and fiscal framework, undoubtedly elements to attract companies, and also public resources available to promote these new activities. We must continue on this path.