Spain’s tourism sector should prepare to welcome holidaymakers over the summer season as the country will reopen its borders to foreign visitors from July, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told a press conference in Madrid on Saturday (23 May). EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
The hospitality and tourism industries play a “fundamental role” for the economy and job creation, Sánchez said.
That is not only because the country welcomed 83.7 million tourists in 2019, making it the second-most popular destination in the world. Foreign visitors also poured €92 billion into the economy, representing 12% of the country’s GDP and providing almost 13% of Spanish jobs.
“I’m announcing to you that there will be a tourist season this year and I invite all tourist establishments to start preparing from today so they can restart their activities in a few days from now,” Sánchez added.
The country’s COVID-19 situation has been brought under control with authorities reporting fewer than 100 daily deaths for a number of consecutive days. Those encouraging statistics came after the country ended up being one of the worst-hit countries with more than 234,800 confirmed cases and 28,600 deaths out of a population of almost 47 million.
Planning the summer holidays
“The hardest part is over. We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” said Sánchez, adding that “the response of the Spanish people has been formidable.”
“Everyone has fulfilled their mission and they came together to deal with the epidemic,” he said, encouraging Spanish residents to start planning their summer getaways.
Spaniards will be able to go on holidays within the country from the end of June. And from July, foreign tourism will restart under “safe conditions”, the PM added.
However, for anyone arriving in Spain, the currently imposed two-week quarantine has been criticised for hampering the tourism sector.
“We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks and they will not bring us any risks,” Sánchez said.
“Spanish tourism will now have two hallmarks: environmental sustainability and health safety,” Spain’s Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera told Efe, adding that holidaymakers around the world can start planning trips to the country.
Around 230,000 self-employed workers are receiving benefits
The government approved credit lines (ICO) worth €400 million for the tourism industry in mid-March. However, these funds have already dried up, according to the ICO’s webpage.
Businesses in the sector could also take advantage of general ICO lines, totalling more than €84.5 billion.
As of 6 May, some 50,000 firms had requested the lifeline at a value of €6.1 billion.
Around 230,000 self-employed workers in the industry are receiving benefits for the cessation of activity and 930,000 registered employees have been placed on temporary leave.
[Edited by Daniel Eck and Frédéric Simon]