Mask-wearing crowds gathered to greet King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain as they arrived for a visit to the Canary Islands, an area that has been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic due to the loss of tourism.
The visit, on June 23rd 2020, was a move the royal couple hoped would “give an image that there is a new stage that we are facing this recovery, that people have to cheer up, that visitors have to come.”
Now that the state of alarm has ended in Spain, the king and queen are arranging engagements to support the recovery of social and economic activities following the height of the pandemic. The popular holiday destination of the Canaries depends heavily on tourism; last year the Canary Islands received more than 15 million visitors and tourism generates about 40 percent of the region’s jobs, according to the Guardian.
Accompanied by the Minister for Territorial Policy and Public Function, Carolina Darias, the Spanish king and queen started their day at Pérez Galdós House-Museum in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Along with the rest of the Canarian museums, it had opened its doors for the first time on June 23rd since the coronavirus-related closures.
The royal couple toured the museum and learned more about the collection chronicling the life and work of the Spanish writer Benito Pérez Galdós, who was born in the house.
They next moved on to the Playa de las Canteras and toured its promenade, receiving many well wishes from the public enjoying the summer weather.
With hotels now preparing for the return of holidaymakers, Their Majesties visited the Santa Catalina Royal Hideaway Hotel to mark its reopening and meet with representatives from the tourism sector.
During the meeting, King Felipe stressed that “we have to raise our spirits and we have to, together, with the aid that is necessary with European solidarity, begin to lift the country again.”
He acknowledged that the country has a long way to go in terms of seeing a recovery from the pandemic-related business closures, saying that “although we still have a milestone in early July to fully open to foreign visitors, it is already underway, we are already opening, we are already recovering at least the spirit, facing a very difficult situation, a very steep uphill to start seeing a real recovery in the economy, in social needs and expectations for the future.”
The couple then arrived at Tenerife South Airport in Tenerife, where they viewed the new health security systems that have been implemented for travellers.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia ended their day at the BONNYSA company agri-food farm in Tenerife. They toured the banana area, as well as their facilities and packaging plant. There they held a meeting with representatives from all over the archipelago, including those from agriculture, livestock, fishing, and rural development, to learn about the impact of the pandemic on their sectors.