You know the old saying about a situation getting worse before it gets better?The travel…
Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced that travelers who’ve been fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be welcomed into Spain, regardless of their country of origin, starting June 7.
And, starting May 24, Spain will also allow visitors from ten nations outside the European Union (E.U.), which it considers “low-risk”, to enter the country without a negative PCR test. On that list is one of Spain’s biggest source markets for tourism, the United Kingdom (U.K.), along with Australia, New Zealand, Israel and others.
Speaking at Madrid‘s FITUR international tourism trade fair, Sanchez said, “They’re welcome—more than welcome—without restrictions nor health controls.”
The world’s second-most visited country prior to the pandemic, Spain’s heavily tourism-reliant economy has suffered severely amid COVID-19. Foreign tourism in 2020 plummeted by 80 percent, while the usual leisure travelers were obliged to shelter at home amid lockdowns and various restrictions.
On top of which, Spain was among the European nations worst hit by the virus, with over 3.6 million cases and 78,000 related deaths. After the initial wave of infection, and following one of the Continent’s harshest lockdowns, the country reopened its borders in June 2020, hoping to salvage the summer tourism season. As a result, it wound up battling another surge only a month later and, then, yet another following the holiday season.
At last, infection rates have fallen and vaccinations are now being rolled out rapidly, enabling most regions to lift local restrictions and curfews. Spain’s state of emergency was allowed to expire earlier this month, after which hotel reservations quickly began to increase.
According to Reuters, Sanchez predicted that the return of tourism (which previously accounted for 12 percent of the nation’s output) would prove to be the key factor that drives Spain’s economic recovery.
Sanchez said the government anticipates that the resumption of travel will raise the country’s foreign tourism numbers back up to 70 percent of their pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021. The prime minister also posited that those levels this summer could reach between 30 and 40 percent of the ones recorded in 2019.
The news of Spain’s reopening to vaccinated tourists arrives on the heels of the E.U.’s own announcement that it has finally reached a deal approving digital COVID-19 vaccine certificates, which should facilitate the resumption of non-essential travel throughout the 27-nation bloc this summer.