MIAMI – Spain, a prized destination for UK summer vacationers, aims to be the first European country to re-open its borders for British tourists.

However, there are two caveats: the first is that Spain is requesting travelers to be fully vaccinated prior to arrival; the second is that Spain is still on the UK’s Amber list, which means travelers will have to undergo a ten-day quarantine when returning home. The opening dates are rather confusing. The Guardian posts a May 20 date while Reuters indicates June 7 one; Travel Radar has a more conservative approach, just mentioning the first week of June.

Air Journal reported on May 20 a more precise description of the general situation by citing the decisions taken by the EU Commission on May 19 on a unanimous basis by the 27 member states, though the decision still awaits a single country’s approval.

The EU Commission indicated that the “European Covid-19 Certificate” – or Green Pass – should come into effect “in principle on June 26 throughout Europe” as stated by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French Secretary of State for Tourism. The unanimously approved EU Commission proposal will allow entry in Europe of travelers from third countries holding a full vaccination regime.

The EU-approved vaccine – Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Johnson & Johnson – will be accepted. If the new measure gains approval from all member states, this would show a certain degree of cooperation among European deciders on the re-opening of borders that have been closed since March 2020.

Iberia Airbus 320-200 EC-MXU – Photo : Alberto Cucini/Airways

Tourism: Key for a Spanish Economic Recovery

Returning to the Spanish goal of reopening ahead of other countries, Maria Reyes Maroto, the country’s Minister of Commerce and Tourism, indicated while speaking on the launch of a US$9.6m (€8m) project to bring tourist back, how keen was Spain to see the return of UK holidaymakers.

She also said that two security systems were in place to safeguard tourists’ health, one being the above cited digital Green Pass and the second the expected update on recommendations regarding non-essential travel from non European countries.

According to Reuters, Spain is also planning to allow entry of tourists coming from ten non-EU countries deemed low-risk to enter without a negative PCR test from May 24 and the list includes Britain, Spain’s largest market for foreign tourists, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, and probably the US.

"They're welcome – more than welcome – without restrictions nor health controls." Pedro Sanchez, Spanish Prime Minister Click To Tweet

This decision was announced Friday, May 19 by Spain Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, during the FITUR (Feria Internacional de Turismo). During an interview, Pedro Sanchez declared, “They’re welcome – more than welcome” albeit with no restriction in effect. The return of tourism is an important issue linked to the economic recovery of the country.

Iberia EC-LEU Airbus A340-600. Photo: Pablo Gonzalez /Airways

A Call for Re-opening Travel from South America

A call to re-open travel from Latin American was made by ALA Airlines Association, asking for visitors from South America be allowed to enter Spain on condition of presenting a negatine PCR test as vaccination, when performed with vaccine not yet approved by WHO (World Health Organization) or by EMA (European Medecines Agency),would not be acceptable.

Iberia (IB) CEO, Javier Sanchez-Prieto, estimates that re-opening for outh Americans should come forward in a matter of weeks. On an other tone, the Spanish Hotel Federation, CEHAT, criticized the delay taken by the EU Commission in deciding on a health pass “perhaps the months of May and June – vital for Spanish tourist activity – would not be lost”.

Featured image: Iberia Airbus 330-200 EC-MNK – Photo : Ervin Eslami/Airways