Spain is revving up for a return of summer tourists with prime minister Pedro Sanchez on Friday offering an upbeat outlook after his government lifted travel restrictions on British visitors.
The European Union also moved a step closer to allowing cross-border travel.
Sanchez said those two developments will bring “a very much better summer” than last year, when the tourist industry in one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations was crushed by limits on travel and gatherings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are hugely thrilled at the prospect of our tourism industry recovering, of the streets of our towns and cities filling up once more,” he told an annual tourism congress in Madrid.
Spain, Sanchez said, will be “delighted, extremely delighted” to receive British tourists again.
Spain is lifting its restrictions on travellers from the United Kingdom beginning on Monday.
In 2019, Britain sent 18 million people to Spain, the most of any country.
However, Sanchez did not mention that Spain is on the UK Government’s amber list, meaning people traveling back to the UK from Spain still need to go into quarantine for 10 days and get multiple Covid-19 tests — a consideration that is likely to dampen enthusiasm for a Spanish holiday.
It means that Britons who cannot work from home are unlikely to go to Spain until the rules change.
Sanchez said it was “extraordinary news” that the EU is poised to introduce a system of Covid-19 travel certificates for EU citizens by July 1, allowing them to travel freely across the bloc.
Tourism is a mainstay of the Spanish economy and Sanchez expressed hope that it can be “the engine that hauls the economy forward” after the economic devastation of the pandemic.
The tourism sector accounted for 12% of Spanish GDP in 2019, but that plummeted to just under 6% in 2020.