Book your flight to Spain yesterday, fly to Spain this morning and then… code orange

Wait as long as possible with your holiday booking to Spain, finally book a plane ticket on Sunday afternoon, sit in the plane this morning and be told this afternoon that the country is getting an orange travel advice. It sounds like a bad movie, but it happened to the Dutch Kirsten.

Kirsten landed in Alicante this morning, a few hours before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced to set the travel advice for the whole of Spain to orange. That travel advice goes into effect at midnight. “I waited as long as possible with books, so I was sure that the travel advice would remain yellow. Well, I didn’t,” says Kirsten on the phone, just coming back from the beach.

She went to Spain alone and is staying in her parents’ holiday home. “I’m trying to stay positive. I’m there now anyway, so I’m staying another week. I’ve rented a car and I’m going to drive around. Sleep it off, a bit to the beach, a bit of food, a bit of wine.” Her mother would come by later this week. “But that won’t happen now.”

There is no annoying atmosphere in Alicante, she says. “Everyone obeys the rules, so do I.” That’s why she’s going into home quarantine after this holiday week.

In Girona in northern Spain the atmosphere is still good, but the news came in hard, says Wilma Hoogwerf, owner of a guesthouse in the city. “The news came out and immediately cancellations came via emails, appes, phone calls. We were the only ‘yellow dot’ here for so long, and so afraid of that orange advice.”

The accommodation is now empty for the next few weeks, with the exception of two guests. “First the English bookings were cancelled, then the German bookings and now the Dutch bookings. We already knew the Americans and Australians wouldn’t be coming, but now there’s not much left.”

The residence has only been open for a few months. “Luckily, at first it was rebookings to September, but now they’re cancellations.” Still, she remains positive. “I know this isn’t permanent. Everyone is affected by it. You have to stay positive or you’re going to be so unhappy. I’m still very happy, even with an empty guesthouse. I just want so badly to make guests happy again.”

Early hotels and holiday homes

Martin de Vries, who rents out holiday homes in Andalusia, also sees the occupancy rate drop. “In September we had actually booked 60 percent, in October 11 percent.”

De Vries now sees many Dutch people in Spain having doubts. “I get phone calls all the time, everyone wonders what to do. Some drive to the airport to see if there happens to be an airplane, others stay here and then go into quarantine.”

Bernou saw this afternoon at the edge of the swimming pool in Gran Canaria a shocked reaction from another Dutch couple and heard the word ‘code orange’ falling. “At that moment we hadn’t heard anything from TUI, we thought it was crazy.”

Soon after, an app came in from travel organization TUI, stating that nothing had changed about their trip. They will return on Friday as planned.

“It was a relief that we can just finish our holiday,” she says. They did change the plans for the rest of the week. “We were going to do a lot of things on the island, but now we stay at the resort. Nothing is going on here at the hotel. Nobody has any complaints and everything is kept clean and the rules are being followed very well. We almost feel safer here than in the Netherlands!”

For the home quarantine she hasn’t arranged anything yet. “If you have to, you have to,” she says. The only question for her is how long. “I work in the care and they say that if there’s little staff, six days is enough if you feel well. Or isn’t ten days mandatory? I don’t know, I haven’t heard anything about it yet.”