The Canary Islands Government Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Yaiza Castilla, has held a video-conference meeting this morning with Magnus Wikner, the CEO of the main Scandinavian tour operator, Nordic Leisure Travel Group, and his management team in order to advance the recovery of tourist flows for this immediate winter season and for which the Scandinavian group have announced their resumption of operations with the islands as of October 24.

On behalf of the travel wholesalers Ving, Tjaereborg and Spies, reports the Gobierno de Canarias, Wikner showed his confidence in the Canary Islands as the only viable alternative for winter sun and beach holiday trips and confirmed that operations will initially resume from next Saturday, flying from Sweden with four weekly routes, one to Tenerife and three to Gran Canaria.

Likewise, the group plan, as restrictions on travel to Spain from Denmark are lifted, to establish 5 weekly flights with the Islands, four to Gran Canaria and one to Tenerife, operations that they hope to resume if, as planned, this country applies its warnings and consequent quarantines by region and not by country.

With respect to tourist flows with Finland and Norway, they estimate that connections with these markets and the Canary Islands would not be restored before January, given the restrictions in these countries that do not currently distinguish between regions of Covid incidence, which in turn hurts the Canary Islands, despite differing significantly in contagiousness data around Covid-19 from the rest of the Spanish national territory.

Wilker made clear at the meeting his recognition of the positive evolution shown in the Canary Islands ability to contain the pandemic, with incidence data that until October 17 stood at just 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 7 days and 75.4 cases over the last 14 days, which reinforces the reasons for Nordic countries to contemplate the islands in isolation from the rest of the country, an issue that the travel group say they are pressing with various governments.

Yaiza Castilla celebrated the recovery of tourist flows, even if at reduced capacity, with the traditional issuing countries, pointing out that “we are the perfect destination, we could almost say the only mid-haul one  for winter sun and beach vacations, since destinations competing are all long haul destinations and their epidemiological situation, as well as their health systems, do not generate the same confidence as Europes at this time”.

Test Covi9d-19
Turismo de Canarias and the Nordic Leisure Travel Group agreed to advance proposals to carry out antigen tests 48 hours before departure of tourists from their country, on a random and voluntary basis and they are studying proposals to help with this expense, which, according to the group, has a cost in Sweden of about €50. The tour operator indicated that they do not consider it necessary to carry out the test when leaving the Canary Islands, since at the moment Sweden does not ask for it, either at origin, and it may affect demand with fear of possible quarantine on the islands.

The Nordic Leisure Travel Group began last year after buying the Nordic part of the Thomas Cook group and is currently the main tour operator in the area. Its main brands are Ving, Spies and Tjäreborg and it has the charter airline Sunclass Airlines (formerly Thomas Cook Scandinavia).

In a survey carried out among the Scandinavian population by this tourist group, 36% stated that they did not plan to travel in the next six months, while the rest did, but it was conditional on flexibility in booking travel (with possibility of canceling and returning amounts paid) and the security and confidence measures that the destination inspires.

Wikner acknowledged that, although the recovery of tourist flows and demand for travel in general is very weak for all destinations around the world, if they are convinced that there will be demand for travel from the Nordics to sub-tropical sun and beach destinations with safety conditions and European health standards over the coming months, something that only the Canary Islands can offer.

The tourist boss advanced a forecast to move up to 179,000 tourists from the four Nordic countries to the islands from October to March 2021, 50% less, however, than they had planned before the outbreak of the pandemic.