Hotel boss insists Covid jab will lift gloom for summer holidaymakers

One of Spain’s top hotel bosses is confident that the Covid vaccine rollout will spearhead a travel recovery – but he called for cheaper testing to encourage holidaymakers to getaway.

Nacho Gozalbo, commercial director of Ibiza-based Palladium Hotel Group, said he was optimistic for this summer – despite the pandemic decimating the winter holiday season in Spain.

He said he was confident accessibility of the jab in the UK and Spain coupled with advances in testing technology would allow holidays and travel to resume in the coming months.

Mr Gozalbo said: “Given the evolution of the pandemic in recent weeks, we did not experience traditional peaks in early January, however we are more confident in late bookings and we are anticipating strong sales periods in April and May.

“In terms of booking trends, our two most popular properties for the UK market continue to be Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife and Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort & Spa, both are large five star properties providing extensive space and services for guests.

“We have learnt a great deal in 2020 and we feel optimistic that the vaccine is being rolled out both in the UK and in Spain so restrictions can be relaxed and travel can resume. We believe the UK travelling public is very resilient and we know there is a huge amount of demand for holidays to both the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

“Given the proximity of the islands, the UK flight connections, the infrastructure and the knowledge of the destination, we feel very confident that we will have a positive summer season.

“The rate of re-bookings from 2020 remains high which means we move into 2021 in a strong and stable position.”

The hotel boss said keeping people safe was the industry’s main priority.

Nacho Gozalbo, of Palladium Hotel Group

Mr Gozalbo added: “Regarding the new requirements for testing on arrival to the UK, it is understandable that the UK needs to prevent any new strains of the virus arriving in the country and focus on getting the health situation under control.

“This is also currently a requirement in Spain for high risk countries, based on the Covid rate.

“We have excellent health infrastructure in the destinations that we operate and we do not foresee any logistical issues with UK visitors accessing tests. Likewise, Palladium Hotel Group has invested in its own medical insurance for hotel guests to provide even more confidence for our visitors.”

Testing should also become more affordable for travellers, he insisted.

“Tourism is a huge part of the Spanish economy, particularly in the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands and we know that enabling tourism to continue in a safe way will be an important priority for all, including the local authorities. This will include the necessary infrastructure for testing and ensuring this is an affordable option.

“The biggest challenge in 2020 was the ongoing uncertainty. Of course we have put in place a number of new health and safety measures in our properties and we are able to respond quickly to new measures and regulations. We also have contingency plans to protect the business.

“Having said that, the vaccine developments and our long and strong relationship with the UK market gives us optimism for the year ahead.”