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‘We are very glad to be here’: German tourists fly to Mallorca in post-Covid pilot project

A planeload of German tourists flew Monday to Spain's Mallorca island, taking part in a test of plans to reopen the popular destination as the country emerges from its coronavirus lockdown.

'We are very glad to be here': German tourists fly to Mallorca in post-Covid pilot project
German tourists Cristoph und Klaus from Düsseldorf in Palma, Mallorca, on June 15th. Photo: DPA

The 180 Germans flew from Düsseldorf to Mallorca, the largest island in the sunny Balearic archipelago, six days before Spain is to open its borders in general on June 21st.

Almost 11,000 tourists from Germany are to follow in the coming days.

“We are very, very glad to be here,” said George Kasbach, who lives near Cologne and owns an apartment on the Mediterranean island that he visits several times a year.

Kasbach had followed the coronavirus epidemic in Spain closely, and said he felt safe because “there are not many ill people at the moment” on the islands.

READ ALSO: Germany lifts travel warning for 27 European countries

Regional officials and tour operators set up the pilot programme in an important test for the Spanish tourism sector, which accounts for about 12 percent of gross domestic product.

Spain decided to open its borders in general and ease nationwide coronavirus restrictions on June 21st, more than a week ahead of schedule.

The country had among of the tightest lockdown measures in Europe, along with one of the highest mortality rates at more than 27,000.

READ ALSO: What are the rules for travelling abroad from Germany this summer?

The pilot project will be subject to strict health guidelines and visitors will have their temperature taken on arrival, but will not be quarantined, regional authorities have said.

Should virus symptoms appear, a follow-up phone check is planned as part of an agreement between the regional government and German tour operators.

Mallorca is a major holiday destination for German tourists, drawing around 4.5 million last year.

The Balearic island chain also includes Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

 

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Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?

Several political parties in Germany have said they want to bring back sleeper trains in order to meet carbon emissions targets.

Could sleeper trains offer Germans cheap, low-carbon travel across Europe?
A sleeper train in Austria. Photo: dpa/APA | Georg Hochmuth

The Green party have said that they want to put state subsidies into night trains that will connect Germany with cities as far flung as St Petersburg in the north and Lisbon in the south.

According to the environmentalist party’s plans, 40 night rail lines could connect 200 destinations across the continent including islands like Mallorca, which would be linked in by train and ferry.

The Greens want the EU to buy a fleet of sleeper trains that could travel at speeds of between 200 km/h and 250 km/h.

The CDU have also announced plans to rebuild the country’s sleeper train services.

Deutsche Bahn stopped its last sleeper service in 2016 citing the high costs involved in maintaining its fleet that was not recuperated through ticket sales.

Earlier this year the state owned company said it had “no plans” to purchase new sleeper wagons.

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