Spain reveals delight at return of Gulf tourists from June 7

Decision comes as country opens doors to holidaymakers from UK and Japan

Fully vaccinated tourists from Gulf countries can return to Spain from June 7 in a further loosening of its Covid travel restrictions which on Monday saw holidaymakers from the UK and Japan welcomed back.

The imminent return of GCC travellers to the popular holiday destination will be augmented on July 1 when Spain adopts the EU's digital Covid certificate, facilitating mobility within the bloc.

As long as tourists from the Gulf have been inoculated twice with either an EMA or WHO-approved vaccine, they will be able to travel to Spain from June 7.

The news was heralded by Daniel Rosado, director of the Spanish Tourism Office.

"We are seeing pent-up demand so the announcement is perfectly timed for the start of the summer season. It's really good news," he told The National.

Spain has long been a favoured destination of European sunseekers but it is an increasingly popular spot for GCC tourists, too.

Prior to the pandemic, in 2019, 121,000 travellers from the UAE and nearly 100,000 travellers from Saudi Arabia visited the country, Mr Rosado said.

Spain opened its tourism office in Abu Dhabi in recognition of this upward trend and the economic benefits attendant on attracting travellers from the Gulf.

Gulf tourists a boon for Spanish economy

"GCC tourists are sought after by all countries because they are the highest spenders," Mr Rosado said.

He revealed that in 2019, UAE tourists contributed about €300m ($366.2m) to the Spanish economy, and their Saudi counterparts around €150m.

Gulf tourists also tend to visit different parts of Spain to European visitors.

"They do a lot of city breaks like Madrid and Barcelona," Mr Rosado said.

"They also like the south of Spain and some even have houses there."

But he hopes to entice GCC tourists to other parts of Spain that he thinks "have potential for them".

With the pandemic creating so much uncertainty and a welter of contradictory international travel rules, Mr Rosado also hopes to assuage concerns over travelling while coronavirus still lurks.

If something goes wrong, Spain's social security and hospital network is one of the best

"Last week we unveiled new online tool – Travel Safe Spain – that helps travellers to understand all the measures and requirements needed to travel to Spain," he said.

"It's very interactive and multilingual, and has up-to-date advice for 50 countries."

In the unlikely event a Gulf tourist catches Covid in Spain or restrictions change mid-holiday, Mr Rosado was clear.

"If something goes wrong, Spain's social security and hospital network is one of the best.

"And in order to return tourists to the other side of the world, the connectivity between Spain and the GCC is assured.

"There has been really good connectivity between both areas throughout the crisis, even in the really bad months when there was a lockdown."

Published: May 25, 2021 08:00 AM

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