MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's Canary Islands could save the crucial winter tourism season after Germany and England decided on Thursday that the archipelago was no longer a high risk area for the coronavirus.
Some 5.1 million Britons and 2.8 million Germans visited the archipelago in 2019, accounting for over half its 13.3 million foreign tourists.
"It's magnificent news," said regional tourism secretary Yaiza Castilla, adding that airlines and tour operators were scrambling to increase capacity and revise pricing in expectation of a rise in demand.
After Germany took the islands off its list of high risk areas on Thursday morning, England followed later in the day, meaning passengers returning to both countries will not have to quarantine.
"The quarantine was putting the brakes on travel decisions from our two main markets," Castilla said.
Located off southern Morocco, the Canaries are popular among sun-seeking northern Europeans, especially during the winter, when half the islands' tourism revenues are generated.
While Spain on Wednesday became the first Western European country to report 1 million cases, the Canaries' infection ratio has halved since early September to 81 per 100,000 residents.
That compares with a ratio of more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people in hard-hit Navarra, on the mainland.
Belgium has one of the Canary Islands, La Palma, in its "green code," meaning it is seen as a safe destination, while it has various travel warnings for all other areas of Europe.
(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Nathan Allen; Editing by Ingrid Melander, William Maclean and Giles Elgood)