Fully vaccinated tourists reveal delight at travelling to Spain

Spanish hospitality sector is hoping to bounce back from disastrous 2020

Explained: Europe's contradictory travel rules

Legions of happy tourists descended upon Spain on Monday as it reopened its borders to people from anywhere in the world who have been fully vaccinated.

There were fewer Britons than would have been present had Spain been included on the UK's quarantine-free green list for travel, but one Irish citizen was particularly ecstatic.

"We're thrilled, delighted. We love Spain, the sun, the food and everything about it," said holidaymaker Gillian Ford, who flew from rainy Dublin.

"You only live once so you need to get out and enjoy it," she told AFP before heading off to the beaches of Marbella with her husband Edward.

Spain is hoping the influx of visitors will revitalise its all-important tourism sector that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

With vaccination rates rising across Europe, many are hoping it will be a busy summer for tourism, and by mid-morning there was a steady flow of arrivals at Malaga airport in the southern Andalucia region, among them German, Irish and Belgian tourists.

At least 20 international flights landed in the morning, with the arrivals delighted to finally be able to hit the beach after more than a year of lockdown.

"I haven't left Belgium for a year," 73-year-old Rose Huo, a Belgian citizen who came to visit her sister who lives in southern Spain, told AFP.

"It's always bad weather in Belgium, it's always raining but here it's always sunny. We'll still have to be very careful but it's a start."

Under the new rules, anyone who has completed their vaccinations at least 14 days before travel is allowed into Spain.

Europeans who haven't yet been vaccinated, who could already enter Spain with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours, can now come with a cheaper antigen test taken in the 48 hours before arrival.

Spain laments UK amber list placement

Heavily dependent on tourism, Spain saw its economy contract by a sharp 10.8 per cent in 2020, one of the worst performers in the eurozone.

The world's second-most popular destination hopes to bounce back this year and is expecting to welcome 45 million travellers.

These hopes were dealt a blow on Friday when the UK opted to keep Spain on its amber list, meaning any Britons holidaying there will have to quarantine and take expensive PCR tests on their return home, putting many people off.

The British normally make up the largest contingent of tourists to Spain. In 2019, more than one fifth of Spain's 83.5 million arrivals were from the UK.

The decision was called "disappointing" by Spain's Health Minister Carolina Darias.

Her country put several measures in place to lure British tourists, allowing them to enter freely from late May without needing to show they'd been vaccinated or even present a negative Covid-19 test.

Against the backdrop of uncertainty, major travel operator Tui cancelled all of its flights to Spain until June 13.

The UK travel list is up for review towards the end of the month, with Spain's hospitality sector hoping to be green-listed.

Published: June 7, 2021 07:51 PM

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