Spain to set-up agreement with non-EU countries in bid to boost tourism

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People sunbathe at the Barceloneta beach in Barcelona on May 20, 2020 during the hours allowed by the government to exercise, amid the national lockdown to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. - Barcelona opened its beaches and parks for walks, in a slight relaxation of lockdown measures. (Photo by LLUIS GENE / AFP)

Spain is open to setting up bilateral agreements and safe corridors with non-EU “third countries”, including the UK, if no deal is reached regarding travel requirements across the European Union, the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism has said.

Spain is prepared to negotiate bilateral travel deals with “third countries”, with everything from vaccine passports/certificates to safe travel corridors on the table.

“If a decision cannot be reached we will be thinking of other solutions such as green corridors with third countries that can help us to restart tourism flows,” Spain’s Secretary of State for Tourism Fernando Valdés told Bloomberg TV.

Valdés echoed Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto’s recent statement that Covid vaccination certificates or passports will form part of the safe travel corridor scheme her government is preparing to allow the reopening of international tourism, something Spain desperately needs by summer in order to jumpstart its ailing economy.

[Spain to produce at least four Covid-19 vaccines]

“We believe that the vaccination certificate has to complete our portfolio and that we are heading towards a summer with some kind of mobility,” Valdés said.

“Maybe if you were vaccinated that means you don’t need to take a test, or that it will give you some flexibility regarding borders”.

Canary Regional President Angel Torres, whose region is currently open to EU tourists and visitors from a handful of other nations as long as they can present a negative Covid test, has suggested that any potential vaccine passport should be “reinforced by an antigen test” as they only take 15 minutes approximately to provide results.

The return of British tourists to Spain

Asked if Spain would follow in Greece’s steps and look into the possibility of a bilateral agreement with the UK, Valdés said that his ministry is “already having discussions with our colleagues in the UK” and that Spain would consider a “green corridor” with Britain as a “third country” if there was no EU deal on travel requirements reached.

“For us the British market is our main market but obviously since we are a member of the European Union, the solutions first have to be part of the discussions in the EU.

[How Spain plans to bring back tourists in 2021]

“We’re going to be cautious, we need to take into consideration the safety of our citizens but the vaccination campaign is evolving and we are integrating these other means, we believe that maybe by summer we will be regaining British tourists in Spain,” Valdes concluded.

Spain recently extended the ban on travellers from the UK, Brazil and South Africa until at least March 16th, over the new Covid variants in those nations.

But the country’s tourism industry has really felt the loss of 82 percent of British tourists in 2020, an annual figure which in recent years has been higher than 18 million visitors.

There are also anywhere between 800,000 to a million British homeowners in Spain, most of whom have up until Brexit been able to spend extended periods of time in their Spanish homes, but who are now in many cases unable to enter Spain as non-residents from a non-EU country.

Source: The Local