Coronavirus: Spain will open up to British tourists from July, prime minister says

'We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks, nor will they bring any risks to our country,' says Pedro Sanchez

Graham Keeley
Madrid
Saturday 23 May 2020 18:57
Comments
Man drinking beer on Brighton beach says UK ‘needs to be stricter like Spain’ to avoid second spike in deaths.mp4

Spain will open to foreign tourists from July, its prime minister said on Saturday, promising that the country would guarantee the safety of visitors as it emerges from one of the most draconian coronavirus lockdowns in Europe.

“I am announcing to you that from the month of July, entry for foreign tourists into Spain will resume in secure conditions,” Pedro Sánchez said at a press conference.

“Foreign tourists can also start planning their holidays in our country. Spain needs tourism and tourism needs safety in both origin and destination. We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks, nor will they bring any risks to our country.”

He added: “We are sending everyone a message today: Spain will be waiting for you from July.”

Spain’s tourism sector, which accounts for 12.5 per cent of its GDP and over 12 per cent of employment, suffered huge damage from the pandemic.

More than 18 million British tourists visited Spain on holiday last year, the biggest market by nationality.

Mr Sánchez had a special message to British tourists.

“The connection between Spain and Britain is total in many ways from the point of economy and tourism. We would like to offer our absolute solidarity to the British society in this critical moment,” Mr Sánchez told The Independent at the briefing.

He said the Spanish government had been planning to open up to safe tourism for weeks.

“This message was designed to give British tour operators and companies some confidence,” a source at the Spanish tourism ministry told The Independent.

“It is very important to give this sector a date – July – so that British tourists know they can book their holidays.”

Popular destinations like the Balearic Islands, the Canaries and the Costa del Sol, where Covid-19 infection rates have been lower than in Madrid and Barcelona, will be prioritised by the government, the source said.

Guidelines on implementing sanitary checks at hotels, restaurants and airports, and avoiding crowding on beaches, are being drawn up by the Spanish authorities.

Spain, one of the worst-hit countries, imposed a two-week quarantine on foreign visitors earlier this month to try to halt the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed 28,628 lives and infected 234,824 people.

Mr Sánchez announced Spain would launch a basic income next month to help 2.5 million of the poorest families at a cost of up to €3.5bn (£3.1bn) each year.

The country has suffered economically with hundreds of thousands losing their jobs.

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