Spain will welcome back foreigners once its own nationals can move freely around the country, its transport minister has said.
Spain is aiming to kick-start its travel economy by welcoming back foreign visitors by late June, its transport minister has said.
Tourism accounts for more than 12% of Spain’s economic output, however the sector has been ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week, the country imposed a two-week quarantine on all overseas travellers, saying it was needed to avoid a second wave of COVID-19.
But the move was meant to be temporary, and transport minister Jose Luis Abalos has now signalled his hope to welcome foreigners back to the country for the summer holidays.
“From late June, we’ll start the tourism activity, I hope,” he told broadcaster TVE.
“We must make Spain an attractive country from the health point of view.”
However, Mr Abalos said the quarantine would only be phased out in parallel with movement being allowed within Spain, whose regions are easing restrictions in different phases.
“As soon as we Spaniards can travel to other provinces, foreigners will be able to come to Spain”, he said.
Even though life on the less populated Balearic and Canary Islands is almost back to normal for locals, for example, there are no tourists in sight.
“It is consistent with the phase-out plan,” said Mr Abalos.
“We can’t allow foreigners to travel while the Spanish population is confined.”
Spain has been one of the nations worst hit by coronavirus, with more than 231,000 cases and 27,600 deaths.
However, on Sunday it reported 87 new deaths – the lowest daily number since 16 March.
The country is slowly easing its strict lockdown, which has been in place since mid-March.
The restrictions meant people could not even go out for exercise, but now most small shops have reopened, along with some churches.
Spain’s target for allowing foreign visitors is similar to other badly-hit European countries, with Italy targeting 3 June as the date for when travel in and out will be permitted, however doubts remain over when British tourists will be able to make such trips.
And anyone looking to book a holiday to France should also wait until talks about a prospective quarantine across the Channel have concluded, a top minister has told Sky News, with Downing Street saying the measure will be reviewed every three weeks.
Boris Johnson announced international travellers flying into the UK would be required to quarantine themselves for two weeks when he addressed the nation last Sunday.
However, Downing Street later added: “No quarantine measures would apply to travellers coming from France at this stage.”
Spain will be hoping a resumption in tourism will help its ailing economy, which the Bank of Spain has said could shrink by as much as 12.4% this year.
Unemployment in Spain rose sharply in March and April, pushing the number of people depending on unemployment benefits to a record 5.2 million.
According to data from early May, as many as seven million people – including furloughed workers and people on medical leave – are now depending on the state, accounting for almost 30% of the working population.
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Germany’s foreign minster has said he wants summer holidays to be possible, but stressed relaxation rules need to be introduced in a responsible way, as the country aims to relax its travel warning in place until mid-June with softer guidance.
Heiko Maas said: “15 June is not the starting date for taking holidays.
“15 June is the date when we need to make a decision on whether we will lift the global travel warning, and we’re working on replacing this travel warning with travel guidelines.”