In the hope of reviving a key sector of its economy, devastated by the pandemic, Spain reopens its doors and its beaches on Monday, June 7 to vaccinated tourists. From Monday, the Spanish borders open to all vaccinated people from all over the world. Another relaxation intended to revive tourism, unvaccinated Europeans, who already had the right to come but had to present a PCR (for Polymerase Chain Reaction or polymerase chain reaction) negative of less than seventy-two hours, can now be satisfied with an antigen test, much less expensive.
“Spain is a safe destination”, said Health Minister Carolina Darias, saying the country was “On the way to regaining its global tourism leadership” while it saw arrivals collapse by 77% in 2020 after welcoming 83.5 million visitors in 2019. Sizeable downside, the second largest tourist destination in the world is still considered at risk by the United Kingdom, which imposes about forty on return to its nationals, enough to dissuade them from coming to enjoy the Spanish sun.
For professionals in the sector, this day should mark the great return of foreign tourists. José Luis Prieto, president of the Union of Travel Agencies (UNAV), thus begins to believe in a “Spectacular recovery Monday”. According to him, tour operators have found “A great demand for information over the past three weeks in Great Britain, France and Germany, the top three markets” for the Spanish tourism sector. Very dependent on tourism, the Spanish economy was in 2020 one of the western economies hardest hit by the pandemic, with a drop of 10.8% of its GDP.
From the Costa del Sol to the Balearics or the Canaries, hotels and restaurants have reopened after months of closure, getting a makeover for some, while airlines have resumed flights to some destinations. Malaga airport, the most important in the whole of Andalusia (south), will see no less than twenty international flights land on Monday morning alone, from, among others, Berlin, Lille, Frankfurt, Dublin or London …
The British “disappointment”
“Disappointment” for Spain’s health minister, the UK left Spain on the list of countries at risk last week, requiring its nationals to pass several paid tests and observe a deterrent quarantine of at least five days at their return. Since May 24, Spain had nevertheless extended its arms to British tourists, the first contingent in normal times (18 million in 2019), again authorized to enter the country, without even having to present a PCR test. Nationals of a few other countries, such as China or Japan, are also exempt from all restrictions.
Spanish Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto explained on Friday “Do not understand the decision” of the United Kingdom for not having agreed to put in his “Green list” certain tourist regions in Spain, such as the Balearics or the Canaries, where the incidence rate is lower. London will only reconsider its decision in three weeks, precious wasted weeks that could call into question the Spanish government’s goal of attracting 45 million visitors this year.
At the end of April, Spain had only received 1.8 million foreign tourists, according to official statistics. In this context of“Uncertainty”, the tour operator TUI, world number one in tourism, has canceled all its flights to Spain until June 13. From Monday, the country will also again allow cruise ships to dock in its ports. Cruise line MSC Cruises has announced that one of its ships will leave Barcelona on June 26 and the port of Valencia will receive a first TUI Cruises boat on June 27.