A British Airways flight from London’s Heathrow Airport arrived in Gibraltar at this morning with the first group of tourists taking advantage of the overseas territory’s inclusion on the new UK travel “green list”.
The flight landed as the government reported the first day of zero COVID-19 cases “across the board” since July last year.
Speaking in parliament, chief minister Fabian Picardo said, “We will have more cases in future, no doubt, but this is an important milestone for Gibraltar.”
Referring to the first arrivals of “green list” holidaymakers from the UK, he said, “We are delighted at the advent of this moment. Air travel between the United Kingdom is not just about tourism. Given our unbreakable and almost filial link with the UK, travel between us is about families reuniting, it’s about the social aspects of our relationship, about business and trade and also about tourism.
“The high level of vaccination in the UK and the complete adult vaccination in Gibraltar also made the re-establishment of an open air corridor very safe.”
Picardo said, for that reason, the government had hoped that travellers from the UK would not require testing on arrival in Gibraltar. However, in the light of concerns by British prime minister Boris Johnson about the onset of infections attributed to the “Indian variant”, and advice from Gibraltar’s own health authority consultant microbiologist, the government “has had to take the tough decision to continue testing all arrivals from the United Kingdom”.
He added that Gibraltar would not require a PCR test for those arriving from the UK (instead, it will be an instant lateral flow test), and there will be no charge to arriving travellers.
Reduced Cost of Pre-Departure COVID-19 Tests
Meanwhile, following the UK government’s announcement that Gibraltar would be on the UK travel green list for summer, the Gibraltar government announced that the cost of providing a COVID-19 test from Gibraltar International Airport (booked on or after Monday 17 May) would be reduced from £50 to £30.
Announcing the reduction, minister for tourism Vijay Daryanani said, “The government wants to reduce the cost of travel after this difficult year for tourists and residents alike. The pre-departure test is one of the requirements of the UK Government to allow entry into the UK. With the travel industry looking at ways of reducing costs in general for travel, the government sees this reduction as a further assistance to holiday this year.”
Tests at Gibraltar International Airport need to be booked at www.covidrapidtest.gi.
Warm Gibraltarian Welcome
Another move planned by the government to “further improve the visitor experience” is the inclusion of new sections on the www.visitgibraltar.gi website featuring itineraries for three, five and seven-day visits, as well as the organisation of summer events for residents and tourists.
“I have no doubt,” said Daryanani, “that, in true Gibraltarian style, each and every one of us will welcome all visitors to Gibraltar with open arms and ensure that they feel at home.
“Together we should deliver that legendary Gibraltarian hospitality… This year we are better connected than ever before to our strongest home market, with airline services to nine UK destinations and with Gibraltar becoming more of an overnight stay proposition. We will also undoubtedly see Gibraltar retaining its top place among the day trips that visitors to the region enjoy once Spain starts to see a revival of its own tourist industry.
“We will also see new tourist sites coming on stream, such as the new St Michael’s Cave experience and the walking tours of the Northern Defences. Our unique products, wonderful natural history and heritage will no doubt attract many visitors this year and let’s keep them coming back.”