Spain aims to welcome British tourists without needing a negative Covid test from May 20, the country’s Tourism Minister confirmed, urging foreign visitors to come “to have a perfect holiday after the worst year of our life ”.
Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a € 8million campaign to attract visitors, María Reyes Maroto said Spain is opening up again and particularly keen on the return of British holidaymakers.
The minister said two security systems were in place to ensure the health of visitors: the EU’s green digital certificate, which will indicate from June whether the holder has been vaccinated, tested or recently recovered from Covid, and the next update of EU recommendations on essential non-travel from countries outside the bloc.
“The recommendations will be considered in the [EU] Foreign Affairs Council on May 20, and this will allow us to bring certainty to markets outside the European Union regarding the resumption of travel – especially travel from the UK, which is our largest market. ”Said Reyes Maroto.
“If all goes well, from May 20 – although there is still a bit of unknowns on how the pandemic will unfold in the countries we are focusing on with the campaign, although the Kingdom figures – United look good both on vaccination and cumulative incidence – The British will be able to come to Spain. In addition, they will not be asked for a PCR test upon arrival in the country. I think this is really good news.
However, a lot will depend on whether the UK government places Spain on the green list of countries the British will be allowed to visit from May 17. At the moment, Spain is in the amber category, which means those returning to the UK will have to quarantine themselves for 10 days and pass two Covid tests.
Reyes Maroto said Spain, which depends on tourism for around 12% of its GDP, would not foot the bill for testing visitors, as the huge sums involved would be better spent elsewhere.
She pointed out that Spain welcomed 83.5 million tourists in 2019, adding: “We hope to receive at least half this year. If we’re lucky we’ll have even more, which would mean paying for PCR testing for 45 million international tourists. We should ask ourselves if public money would be better spent on other things. “
The minister also stressed that Spain’s vaccination program was accelerating. To date, more than 14 million of the country’s 47 million people have received a single vaccine, while more than 6.3 million have received both doses of the vaccine.
“If all goes well, we could get 70% of the population vaccinated even before the end of the summer, which would be great news for everyone as we need to start leaving the pandemic behind – especially the industry. tourism, which closed for 14 months despite enormous efforts to reinvent itself, ”she said.
Despite the optimism, however – and a continuing decline in the national infection rate – some areas of Spain still report significantly higher number of cases per 100,000 population than others.
Throughout Spain, the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants is 180; in the Madrid region it is 291 and in the Basque Country it is 387.
Reyes Maroto joined Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya in lamenting the slogans of “freedom” used by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the recently re-elected conservative president of the Madrid region, during her campaign.
González Laya said Ayuso’s emphasis on the importance of ‘going for a beer or going to a bullfight’ distracted people from fighting the pandemic and helped keep Spain off the list United Kingdom Green. When Spain’s six-month state of emergency ended on Sunday, thousands took to the streets in impromptu celebrations which were criticized by politicians and medical experts.
“Ayuso’s comments in the campaign for freedom and being able to do anything in Madrid do not help or help raise awareness,” said Reyes Maroto.
“But it’s not just Madrid; there are other areas that need to reduce the number of cases. Madrid represents many cases, but in any case everyone in Spain – including the people of Madrid – must be aware that freedom is not the same as recklessness and that we must obey the rules of security.