Mallorca Ramps up COVID Testing to Meet German Travel Rules

BY GUILLERMO MARTINEZ and Ilona Wissenbach

PALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (Reuters) – Mallorca is scrambling to meet Germany’s new requirement that its citizens on holiday there test negative for coronavirus before their return home, opening testing centres at the airport and in large hotels, and boosting lab capacity.

Accommodating Berlin’s travel rules, introduced at three days notice, is a test for Balearic authorities and private health care providers on how flexible they must be in future months to keep foreign tourists arriving and booking more holidays.

But German tourists already in Mallorca are disgruntled at the rule change, after already having to show a negative result to enter Spain. Future bookings have also been hit.

“The process of getting a test appointment has cost us a day of our holiday, and the test several hours, it’s all quite a hassle,” German tourist Andreas, who did not give his last name, said at the airport, by a testing booth.

Battling soaring infections at home, Berlin introduced the negative test requirement for all returnees on Monday to avoid importing more cases, shortly after lifting an obligatory quarantine.

Tour operator TUI said the German government’s shifting requirements had put some people off taking a trip.

Bookings for Mallorca trips are still coming through but not at the high levels seen immediately after Germany dropped a quarantine requirement, company spokesman Aage Dünhaupt said.

That is bad news for businesses on the tourism-dependent island, which already faces a long and uncertain path to recovery after the pandemic devastated international travel.

Foreign tourism to Spain plunged 80% last year to 19 million visitors – its lowest in half a century – and few expect a return to pre-COVID levels before 2023.

German tourists must pay for the tests themselves.