BENIDORM mayor Toni Perez has added his voice to the chorus of concern over the British government’s quarantine rules.

Mr Perez spoke out after Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez said foreign holidaymakers would be welcomed back from July after its current quarantine rules on people arriving in the country are lifted.

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His message was described as “very positive” by influential Spanish tourist group Exceltur.

The mayor of British favourite Benidorm also welcomed Mr Sanchez’s comments, but admitted the UK quarantine was a concern.

Under plans announced by Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday, anyone reaching the UK from June 8 will have to self-isolate for 14 days or risk £1,000 fines. The new rules will apply to returning holidaymakers.

Ms Patel described the measures as “temporary” but said they would be reviewed every three weeks, meaning any extension beyond the initial three-week period would make it impractical for most Britons to take a foreign break.

Spain is the top destination for British tourists, with around 18 million people from the UK visiting the country normally every year.

Benidorm – made even more famous by the hit ITV comedy series of the same name – has an area known as Little England.

British visitors to the resort outnumber every other nationality apart from the Spanish, with four out of every ten of its holidaymakers coming from the UK.

Mr Perez said: “Benidorm has been working for weeks now to make sure it is a safe resort this summer.

“It’s not just important that Benidorm and Spain are safe destinations but also that the countries tourists come from are safe as well.

“We’re keeping on a close eye on the evolution of the health situation in the neighbouring countries of France and Portugal.

“But we’re also keeping a close eye on our most important market, which is the UK and which is the country that is therefore of most concern to us.

“The quarantine the British government has announced, which will be revised after three weeks and includes high fines for people who flout the rules, is causing a lot of uncertainty.

“No-one knows how long it could last and that is having an effect on last-minute holiday reservations and cancellations and that is something that is worrying us.”

Yesterday, Sunday influential Spanish tourist group Exceltur called on the Spanish government to give the UK priority in safe “air corridor” negotiations designed to pave the way for a British return to the Costas this summer.

Exceltur’s vice-president Jose Luis Zoreda called the Spanish PM’s invitation to foreign holidaymakers to pick Spain from July “very positive.”

He said: “This kickstarts British and German tour operators because they now know they can operate in July if all goes well.”

Telling Catalan daily El Periodico that Britain, which accounted for more than 18 million of Spain’s foreign tourists last year, and Germany should be priority countries in ‘safe corridor’ negotiations, he added: “The speech Pedro Sanchez made was very positive because he committed to a date with enough time for potential tourists to book holidays here, and because of the message it sends that the Prime Minister of a country is welcoming back foreign visitors.

“The common denominator will not be nationality but the corridors.”

Saying he thought it was unlikely EU-wide agreements on re-opening borders could be reached by July, he added: “We have to get going to establish these bilateral corridors and agreements.”

Many Spanish town halls have already indicated social distancing through limits on the number of tourists who can enjoy their beaches, will be top of their list of priorities.

The Costa del Sol resort of Fuengirola has said it will use artificial intelligence to control numbers.

Authorities in Lloret de Mar on the Costa Brava have said they intend to put different age groups in different areas of their beaches.

Travellers entering Spain are currently being forced to quarantine for 14 days but the order will be lifted when the country ends its current state of emergency at the end of June at the latest, unless there is a dramatic change in the health situation.

Additional measures like temperature checks at airports for foreign tourists who jet to Spain in July are also being studied.

Juan Marin, vice-president of the Junta de Andalucia which is the regional government responsible for areas like the Brit-popular Costa del Sol, insisted today/yesterday (SUN) rapid Covid-19 tests on foreign tourists could be the way forward for the recovery of the International holiday market.

He told a Spanish radio station the country had to compete on a level playing field with competitor nations like Portugal and Italy, warning: “If we miss out this summer, we’ll be facing a frozen winter.”

Teresa Ribera, one of the Spanish government’s vice-presidents, has said “safe corridors” will “probably” be applied along the same lines as peoples’ movements between regions as part of a national tourism scheme.

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