Hopes have been raised for a winter season of cruise ship visits to the Canary Islands.

Cruise lines will have to carry out Covid PCR tests on all travellers before arriving in the archipelago, according to the Canary Islands government.

UK government restrictions currently prevent ocean cruises from operating and lines still await renewed Foreign Office guidance.

On a media call after issuing its half year results up to the end of July, Saga group chief executive Euan Sutherland said the firm was “ready to cruise again as soon as government guidelines are updated”.

He added: “We expect them to be in the next few days”.

The Spanish islands’ transport and health ministers believe safety rules can be agreed to allow a return of ships from as early as October.

The presidents of the port authorities of Las Palmas and Santa  Cruz de Tenerife have committed to communicating the government health protocol for cruise companies to adopt.

Cruise companies would be required to subscribe to an insurance that covers all the expenses of passengers that may be infected by Covid-19 in order to guarantee both safety of the residents of the Islands and the ships’ passengers.

“This insurance would cover all the expenses derived from a coronavirus incidence among travellers, such as repatriation, medical expenses and quarantine stays,” a Canary Islands statement said.

All passengers will need to undertake a diagnostic test to show that they are negative for coronavirus.

Passengers must also fill out a form that includes all their movements in the last 15 days before arriving in the Canary Islands to monitor them in case of an incident.

Cruise companies must undertake that their ships do not exceed 60% or 70% of capacity and they expand their sanitary staff on board, with cleaning and disinfection of ships after each trip, to establish a protocol of tracking ships every time they dock in a port on the islands.

Tui is one of five European cruise companies to have shown interest in starting winter cruises.

“Only with this operating company, the Canarian ports would be receiving an average of 1,300 tourists every week, an amount that will increase considerably once the rest of the shipping companies that have already shown their interest in making the Canarian circuit join,” the islands’ government said.

Transport minister Sebastian Franquis said: “For the government of the Canary Islands it is essential to recover this type of tourism because it is a very necessary economic activity at the moment for the archipelago, and we want to recover it with all the health requirements.

“For the government it is essential to recover winter tourism, not only in air transport, but also in maritime transport and gradually recover the hotel plant.

“Therefore, we are making every effort to ensure that between October and November cruise tourism begins to recover normally within what we are experiencing and not to lose the winter tourist season.”