A grassroots movement that started off in Spain has spread across Europe, encouraging travel businesses, hotels and B&Bs to provide free holidays to healthcare workers in the UK as soon as travel bans are lifted.

A mature woman relaxes in a swimming pool
Grassroots organisations have united the travel industry to provide free holidays to healthcare workers ©Getty Images

A small B&B in Andalucía kickstarted the campaign to provide NHS workers with a free holiday once they're free to travel again. Ian Rutter and Andrew Watson, who run Casa Higueras in Granada, said: "We wanted to give a few of those people working tirelessly in the NHS something to look forward to when this crisis subsides."

"And we have empty rooms in our bed and breakfast. It is also equally important to us to invite visitors back to Spain, and Italy for that matter, at a time of recovery when those visitors will be essential to the future of tourism in the hardest hit destinations."

Since its launch earlier this month, the movement has spread like wildfire on social media throughout the UK under the hashtags, #MyTravelPledge with properties in France, Spain and Italy pledging to provide free accommodation to healthcare workers.

The Hayloft Devon kickstarted the initiative in the UK with support from local businesses in Devon ©TheHayloftDevon/Instagram

A similar initiative #treatournhs, was set up by Sarah Bowman, the owner of The Hayloft – a 17th-century boutique guesthouse in Devon. Posting on Instagram, Sarah said she wanted to "give back to the NHS" and offered a two-night stay in her studio for two to get the ball rolling. "The travel industry has been so hard hit by the pandemic but the generosity I'm seeing is heartwarming," she added. "The messages I'm getting from nurses and others in the NHS are so moving, too: they say we're offering a light at the end of the tunnel."

More than 100 businesses and accommodation owners have signed up to the campaign. Among the prizes on offer are luxury stays in a Scottish castle and a luxury French chateau, as well as a holiday for four in Mallorca, spa days and afternoon teas. The award-winning Pig hotels chain is offering nearly every one of its rooms to the #treatournhs campaign, while travel firms including CoolStays and Sawday’s have recently signed up.

Rainbow pictures, offering messages of hope to the public and support for the NHS (National Health Service) are seen in the windows of The DLD College close to St Thomas' Hospital in central London ©Glyn Kirk/Getty Images

Anyone looking to take part by either nominating a healthcare worker or offering accommodation can do so by posting under one of the hashtags: #MyTravelPledge  and #treatournhs.

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