Coronavirus: Spain reopening to foreign holidaymakers 'from late June'

18 May 2020, 12:06 | Updated: 18 May 2020, 12:56

Beaches in Benidorm could be welcoming foreign tourists from late June
Beaches in Benidorm could be welcoming foreign tourists from late June. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Spain will begin reopening to foreign holidaymakers "from late June" as lockdown measures are eased, the country's transport minister has said.

The two-week quarantine imposed on overseas travellers to prevent a second-wave of coronavirus infections will be phased out in line with measures placed on domestic travel, Jose Luis Abalos told Spain's RTVE broadcaster.

"As soon as we Spaniards can travel to other provinces, foreigners will be able to come to Spain," he told RTVE.

"From late June, we'll start the tourism activity, I hope," he said.

"We must make Spain an attractive country from a health point of view."

Regions in Spain will be lifting lockdown measures at different speeds due to some being hit by the outbreak later.

Tourism accounts for roughly 12 per cent of the country's economic output, but the industry has been devastated by coronavirus.

Spain has officially recorded 27,650 deaths with coronavirus and more than 231,000 confirmed cases, making it the fifth-worst hit nation in the world in both tallies.

However, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said there was no firm date for reopening the country's borders to foreign tourism, while also suggesting some regions could open up before others.

"At the end of June, if all goes well, the Spanish will be able to move around Spanish territory. It would be a little illogical to allow the entry of foreigners who can freely circulate around Spain when the Spanish can’t do so," she said.

It is still not clear when British tourists will be able to travel to destinations in Europe
It is still not clear when British tourists will be able to travel to destinations in Europe. Picture: PA

“For the moment we have not set a specific date to reopen our frontiers. However, we know that when we do we want to do so in conditions of safety for those who want to enter Spain, but also for Spanish citizens within our territory."

The Balearic and the Canary Islands, where the outbreak is under greater control than in other regions, and whose economies depend heavily on the tourism sector, could be among the first to allow foreign holidaymakers back in.

Ms Gonzalez Laya said that once the country has its Covid-19 outbreak under control "we will be willing to gradually open our borders to freedom of moment, with our European neighbours first.

"We are opting to set objectives in a way which is closer to each time, observing the epidemiological figures and the construction of health service capacities, which is what is going to allow us to open safety,” she added.

The foreign minister said that while there was coordination with other EU countries, the dates for reopening cannot be the same because each country's outbreak was at a different stage.

She added: "Where there is a desire for greater coordination, is not on when to open borders, but how we are going to do so and what kind of information and requirements we are going to ask of those who travel."

Meanwhile, flights to and from Spain's major airports, including Ibiza, Tenerife, Malaga and Palma, resumed on Monday following weeks of strict lockdown restrictions.

However, Brits will not find be able to jet off to the likes of Benidorm any time soon, with non-essential travel still banned by the UK Government.

Plans are also in place for implementing a 14-day quarantine on anyone returning to the UK from abroad.

Lockdown restrictions were introduced in the country in mid-March, meaning people were unable to go outside even for exercise.

Public services have been put under severe stress, while the country's economy is feared to shrink by 12.4 per cent this year, the Bank of Spain has said.

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