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Cruise companies line up to restart holidays around the Canaries with Covid tests for passengers 

Brits could go cruising around the Canaries as early as OCTOBER but they will need coronavirus tests before they leave the UK and shore visits will be shortened.

Tourism leaders in the islands, which include
Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria, have confirmed a number of cruise
companies are interested in starting up at the end of next month after months
of no sailing. These include Tui, Aida, Thomson and Cruises Europe.

The news comes as Costa Cruises has
planned a 12-day itinerary through the Canary Islands from November.

Passengers on Canary cruises would be
subjected to PCR tests at their places of origin and will only tour around the
islands.

The announcement follows a meeting with the
port authorities of Las Palmas on Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Transport minister, Sebastián Franquis said
Tui was the first to make an official request although there had been
communications from other shipping companies as well with a view to beginning
island circuits at the end of October or beginning of November.

The port authorities are making special
requests, including 60 per cent occupancy and the crew remaining on board
whilst passengers are on visits. They would also have to fill out detailed
medical and contact forms and have a negative coronavirus test.

The Canary government would also want cruise
companies to have insurance which would cover costs in the event of any
coronavirus outbreak and passengers needing to go into isolation.

“The forecast is to start the season with
around 1,300 people per week and we will see how the situation evolves
depending on the other companies that have shown interest,” said a
spokesman. “It is essential to recover the winter cruise season and in
general, because it is a key economic activity for the islands and could be
resumed with all the health guarantees with relative normality and taking all
the necessary measures.”

The cruises would be exclusively for European
shipping companies, with “very demanding” protocols and the ships
would have to meet all European health requirements.

The ports of La Luz in Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife would be the bases.

Mr. Franquis said requests for every shipping
company would be looked at in detail before an official request was put to the
government of Spain although customer demand could only be judged once the
go-ahead was given. However, he was sure the Canaries could become the first
destination in Spain to restart cruises.

It is understood passengers would be able to
fly out from their local airport, with the UK, Germany and the Nordic countries
all eligible.

President of the Port Authority of Las Palmas,
Luis Ibarra said: “These companies want to use the Canary Islands as a
benchmark for all of Europe and are going to expand all control measures,
increase the number of doctors and nurses and carry out a prior analysis of the
cruise passenger to determine whether or not they have risk factors. If they
are people at risk, they will not be allowed to come.”

The aim would be to win back at least 40 per
cent of cruise tourism for this autumn/winter season.