Last month, the President of Spain presented the Digital Covid Certificate of the EU at the International Tourism Fair (FITUR).
The certificate has been agreed between the European Commission, the European Council and the European Parliament.
Pedro Sánchez said: “With the Digital Covid Certificate, Spain will resume all its economic activity safely and we will achieve mobility within the European Union this summer,” Sánchez commented. The president clarified that this is not to be treated as a passport, nor travel document, and it is not a requirement for travel. “It is a mechanism that will facilitate mobility, as well as arrival and passenger transit, and which will be launched as of July 1”.
The Spanish Tourist Office said the main benefits of the Green Digital Certificate are its “simplicity and interoperability for the entire European Union, as well as the fact it is free and universal.”
With QR code, it will provide information on whether the person traveling is vaccinated, has contracted the disease, or has a negative PCR test result. In Spain, the regions will manage the issuing and delivery of the certificates in electronic or paper format.
Although Spain remains on the UK’s amber list, it now allows the entry of travellers from non-EU countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Thailand, Rwanda, China, as well as the United Kingdom and Japan.
All these countries have been included on the list of safe countries and therefore travellers from these countries will not face health checks upon arrival in Spain. “This is, without a doubt, great news,” the president added.
People arriving from amber list countries will have to quarantine for 10 days at home when they return to the UK. They will have to take a pre-departure test, then a PCR test on days two and eight, but there will be an option for “test to release” in which they can end self-isolation early if they test negative on day five by purchasing an extra PCR test.
The Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands. Therefore, holidaymakers who are booked on a package holiday to travel imminently should be given the option of an alternative holiday or a full refund, unless travelling to the Canary Islands.
We speak to the youth travel company’s new sustainability officer
Contiki Holidays recently announced that it will be going 100 per cent carbon neutral by 2022 as part of its new five-point Climate Action Plan, which ties into wider goals by The Travel Corporation (TTC). The Australian company, which specialises in youth travel, will be at the forefront of these plans as it looks to reduce emissions and set reduction targets; offset unavoidable emissions by partnering with offset provider, South Pole; and invest in carbon credits from a combination of three carbon offset projects.
TTC says that the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Standard projects guarantee that carbon reductions are made, while offering co-benefits that positively impact local communities: forest conservation in Australia, biogas energy in Thailand and renewable energy in the USA. While the wider TTC portfolio is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030, Contiki has 2022 in its sights and is also aiming to source 50 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
As part of this strategy, Contiki has appointed a sustainability officer, Tasha Hayes. “From Contiki’s perspective it made sense for us to [be the first TTC brand to go carbon neutral], because our demographic is very much aligned with sustainability,” she tells ABTA Magazine. “We have lots of Make Travel Matter experiences, which started with Contiki and got incorporated into the other brands, so we were already at the forefront of this. It makes a lot of sense to go the full push and go carbon neutral.”
Hayes says younger travellers are increasingly seeking out organisations that take green issues seriously. “Contiki did its own study asking people about what they want from a company and why they travel, and one of the big things that came back was sustainability and travelling with companies that are trying to make a difference,” she says.
The company, she says, knows young people will always want to travel – describing it as “their rite of passage” – so believes it’s Contiki’s responsibility to provide experiences that respect the people, planet and wildlife that travellers encounter along the way.
Although emissions considered do include flights to the destination, Hayes said that the tours themselves were meticulously analysed to measure the company’s carbon footprint. “Of 40 trips globally we looked at every little aspect and measured the emissions, all transfers, meals and accommodation,” she says.
One major move has been at Contiki’s Château De Cruix and Haus Schöneck properties, which are now powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. “In both properties we’re also looking at local and organic food – in fact, it’s something we’re pushing for our own properties and suppliers that we partner with. We want to up that every single year.
“At the moment we’re having an audit done to see exactly what we’re feeding our travellers and see what we can get locally. For us, local is within 50 miles of the property. We want them to be able to say we can get our cheese and yoghurt from just up the road.” Indeed, a traveller’s ‘food print’, although often overlooked, can be considerable.
Contiki says it has also implemented fuel-efficient Euro 6 coaches throughout Europe, and has launched more ‘staycation’ trips alongside lower-carbon-footprint, by-rail itineraries, a new vegan itinerary and options for lower-emission vegan and vegetarian meals on all trips. Hayes says that bio-fuel options and training staff to reduce food waste are also big parts of the plan.
Upon the announcement of the wider sustainability plan, Adam Armstrong, Contiki CEO said: “Carbon removal and carbon capture technologies are deeply promising. It’s important to us that we support the science developing around every possible solution, in addition to reducing our emissions and purchasing verified carbon offsets. It’s equally exciting to have Tasha on board to lead this for us, the next phase of Contiki Cares.”