Spain's Canary Islands is attempting to lure tourists back by offering them free COVID-19 insurance, which covers medical expenses, health repatriation and the cost of a prolonged stay due to quarantine for those who test positive for the virus.

The agreement was signed this week between the Canary Islands' Department of Tourism and AXA Insurance and applies to all foreign visitors, and those travelling from mainland Spain, provided they are staying in regulated tourist accommodation on the archipelago.

The scheme launches this week and will be in place for the next 12 months. It's free to visitors but it does not cover those who were aware they had contracted COVID-19 prior to travel, or those who already have personal travel insurance. 

"The Canary Islands are making further progress in their commitment to strengthen and increase the safety and peace of mind of tourists," Yaiza Castilla, the Canary Islands' tourism minister, said in a statement.

What to expect when travelling to the Canary Islands this summer

A hiker on a remote trail through rocky formations, with the sea in the distance
Tourism accounts for 35% of the Canary Islands GDP ©canadastock/Shutterstock

The islands have a relatively low incidence of Covid-19 cases and have positioned themselves as a global laboratory for safe tourism” through measures including the world's first health passport flight and organizing widespread renovations across the popular tourists islands of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote to protect visitors from the virus and ensure social distancing. Like elsewhere in Spain, masks are mandatory outdoors and in indoor communal spaces. Despite the precautions, the islands are struggling to get summer tourism back on track due to widespread fears of traveling amid the crisis.

White buildings with sandy streets on the island of La Graciosa
The island of La Graciosa recorded no coronavirus cases ©underworld111/Getty Images

Tourism accounts for 35% of the Canary Islands GDP, with British tourists making up a third of all visitor numbers. However, with the UK government implementing a mandatory two-week quarantine on those returning from Spain, and France and Germany warning against travel to Spain, it's likely that the popular tourist destination will continue to struggle this summer.

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This article was first published August 2020 and updated August 2020

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