After several false-starts, Spain’s Tourism Chief has confirmed that Spain will be ready to welcome back British tourists from June. This is great news for Britons hoping to soak of some sun, sea and Spanish hospitality as well as Brits ready to visit their second homes in Marbella or La Cala. The governments in both Spain and the UK have had discussions to ensure that a digital health pass will be introduced to support this decision.
Spain is the UK’s favourite holiday destination: more than 17 million British tourists visit Spain every year and the coronavirus crisis has had a devastating effect on the Spanish tourism industry, as it has prevented tourists from visiting the country. The Spanish travel industry is desperate to welcome back tourists and keen to kick-start the summer season, so this renewed start date is great news for the sector, and for anyone relying on tourism for their income too.
An Official Update
This is no longer rumour, but comes from an official source: Spain will be opening its borders to British tourists. Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdes Verelst said: “June will be the start of the recovery of tourism in Spain...By then, we will have a digital vaccination certificate in place and we will be able to reopen our borders.”
It is still not clear whether the UK will allow travel to Spain (and whether it is be green, amber or red under the country’s new traffic light system) but we do know that the UK will restart international travel in some format from 17th May and that the two countries would like their coronavirus digital passports to be “mutually recognised”, so that Spanish citizens can also start planning to travel over the summer months. Mr Verelst said that he expected Spain to be added to the green list , which is the best-case scenario, but we have no clarification of this at this stage. He said: “Because of the progress in our vaccine rollout, with 22 per cent of our population having had their first dose already, we expect by June to be at the green light...We are having close conversations with UK authorities and we are exchanging information on Spain’s digital system and the trial happening at our airports in May.”
Spain is not the only country keen to welcome back British tourists. Greece has also announced that they are ready to welcome back Britons, and to get them in the country sooner would also be prepared to accept their paper vaccination certificates while the UK and EU come to an agreement on digital passes. Meanwhile, Spain intends to begin trials of digital coronavirus passports now, so that they are ready for when their tourism industry does resume in June.
The Vaccination Passport Scheme
Mutual travel between Spain and the UK will be aided by each country’s respective vaccination passport scheme. Spain will be included in the EU’s Green Card Digital Vaccination passport scheme, which is due to launch in June, and will provide every Spaniard with access to either a digital or paper coronavirus passport to make travelling through the EU much easier.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced that the country intend to use the NHS app to also act as a digital health passport. This will show recent test results as well as any vaccinations administered: many users have downloaded the app and found that this information is already displayed, confirming that this will be the easiest and most convenient way for Britons to demonstrate their vaccine status.
With both initiatives set to be up and running by June, it is likely that travel between the two countries will finally be allowed, with both country’s tourism industries making preparations to welcome visitors in a Covid-safe way.
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