MADRID – From Thursday, May 20, the Spanish government wants to allow all tourists from a country with a low covid-19 incidence without vaccination proof or negative test result. This applies to all tourists from both European and non-European countries.
State Secretary Fernando Valdés of Tourism confirmed this in a statement to the newspaper Vozpópuli. However, there is still a European entry ban in force for travellers from countries outside the EU, including the UK. Therefore, at the moment, all European travellers still must submit a negative test result upon arrival.
No epidemiological risk
Spain now wants to reach agreement in consultation with the other EU member states to relax the current access rules. “It has been scientifically proven travellers from countries with a relatively low covid incidence do not pose an epidemiological risk. In order to stimulate the flow to Spain, these travellers are exempted from the test obligation, ”says Valdés. According to the State Secretary, this explicitly applies not only to travellers from the UK, but also to travellers from all countries with a favourable epidemiological course.
For Spain, access for travellers from the UK is of great importance. This is because they are the largest group of foreign tourists. In 2019, 18 million Britons spent their holidays in Spain. Which is the reason Minister Reyes Maroto of Industry, Trade and Tourism had previously announced that from 20 May travellers from the UK will be admitted to Spain without a PCR test. Moreover, the UK currently has an incidence of 50 infections per 100 thousand inhabitants.
Indian virus variant
However, experts fear admitting British tourists without a negative test result will open the door not only to the tourists, but also to the Indian virus variant. Indeed, England is the country where most cases of infection with the virus from India are recorded. This can be seen from recent data by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). According to immunologist Alfredo Corell, it has not yet been proven current vaccines also work against the Indian virus variant. In contrast, this virus is known to spread more easily and cause more severe symptoms than the other virus variants.
Borders are no longer closed
Nevertheless, Secretary of State Valdés said the Spanish government wants an alternative to closing the borders when new viruses emerge or the covid incidence rises in the countries from which travellers now enter Spain without a PCR test. “Instead of a border closure, the flow of tourists must continue to be possible with a covid passport or comparable document that shows vaccination, a negative test result or an infection with the coronavirus that has already been infected,” said Valdés.
Spain hopes to recover 50% from record year 2019
The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism launched an advertising campaign last Wednesday in which €8million has been invested to restart international tourism, and then from the target market England. The government hopes to close this year with at least 50% of the number of international tourists registered in 2019. In that year, Spain received a record number of 84 million foreign tourists. Now it is hoped will reach 47 million. However, until March this year, only 1.2 million foreign tourists were registered, according to the Spanish statistical office INE.