British holidaymakers will be allowed to enter Spain from Monday despite the country still being on the UK’s amber list.
Spain will follow Portugal’s lead and let UK tourists in from next week, the Spanish government confirmed on Friday in an official state bulletin.
Thousands of Brits are now expected to fly next week to Spain, traditionally the UK’s favourite foreign holiday destination, despite it being on the UK’s amber travel list.
Portugal is currently the only major tourist destination on the UK’s ‘green list’, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said hinted the green list could be expanded amid pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added.
Despite ministers warning that people should not be going to amber-rated countries for holidays yet, hundreds of thousands of people have already been braving quarantine and testing requirements to go anyway.
Spain will follow Portugal’s lead and let UK tourists in from next week, the Spanish government confirmed on Friday in an official state bulletin. Pictured: Stock image of Malaga, Spain
Travellers returning to Britain from an amber location must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests.
Spain will not be added to the UK’s green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of seaside tourist destination Benidorm, said he saw the latest announcement as ‘very positive’.
He added: ‘This is good news and we regard it as very positive.
‘It’s something we’ve been clamouring for in Benidorm given the epidemiological evolution of our coronavirus data, which together with the vaccine situation made this modification inevitable.
‘Now we need the British government to give the green light to safe air corridors with areas like the Valencian Autonomous Community which has a very low rate of coronavirus.
‘That’s especially the case with Benidorm so that as a safe destination we have the UK’s green light and can offer happiness and security to those who choose us for their holidays.’
Francesc Colomer, regional tourism minister for the Valencian Community which includes the provinces of Castellon, Valencia and Alicante and covers the Costa Blanca, added: ‘This news is a step forward and very positive.
‘We are advancing in terms of overcoming this pandemic and see this as validation of the improvement of the health situation.
Travellers returning to Britain from an amber location must quarantine at home for 10 days and take a pre-departure test and two post-arrival tests
Spain will not be added to the UK’s green list until June at the earliest, but Toni Perez, mayor of tourist destination Benidorm (pictured), said he saw the announcement as ‘very positive’
‘Tourism is a space without borders. We have to continue advancing in terms of obtaining the UK’s green traffic light status and we hope the UK will interpret this news positively.’
British holidaymakers planning to jet to Spain from next week are expected to have to show proof they have been vaccinated or present a negative PCR coronavirus test.
Spain’s veto on British tourists had been extended till May 31 before Friday’s announcement, although the country’s tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto signalled earlier this month it could be lifted earlier.
Meanwhile, Antonio Mayor, President of the Benidorm, Costa Blanca and Valencia Region Hotel Association Hosbec, said he was ‘delighted’ by the news.
The hotel chief continued: ‘This is great. Everything that means opening borders and trying to normalise mobility is good news.
‘We are delighted with the announcement. The important thing now is that the UK puts us on green light status.
‘We expect many British tourists will now come to Spain but green light status would encourage even more.’
Spain’s announcement it was lifting its entry ban on British tourists came ahead of PM Pedro Sanchez’s visit on Friday to international trade fair Fitur in Madrid.
Sanchez was due to present the digital green certificate the EU has been working on to reactivate international tourism at the event.
Portugal (pictured: Algarve) is currently the only major tourist destination on the UK’s ‘green list’, while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he wanted to see more countries added
Since last year, the only Brit travellers from the UK allowed into Spain have been people like residents whose trip is regarded as ‘essential’.
The Spanish Interior Ministry announcement confirming the move to put the UK on Spain’s non-EU exemption list, which also applies to Japan, said: ‘At present the European Union is debating a modification of the recommendation on a temporary restriction of non-essential journeys from outside the EU.
‘It’s foreseeable that Japan and the UK will be included in the list of country exempted.
‘Several EU states have already put those two countries in that privileged position.
‘Spain receives each year a number of visitors from the UK which is especially relevant in relative and absolute terms and many economic sectors need to adapt their capacity in anticipation of border changes.
‘In light of all this, and after consulting with other government departments which are affected, order INT/657/2020 dated July 17 is modified to include Japan and the UK on the exempted list.
‘The modification will take effect from midnight on May 24.’
The announcement comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps yesterday hinted that the ‘green list’ could be expanded within weeks amid mounting pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added.
The Transport Secretary delivered an optimistic message about the prospects for summer travel as he defended the government’s traffic light system – despite fury that it has caused confusion and chaos.
He urged people to be ‘patient’ rather than booking trips to ‘amber’ rated destinations – suggesting the roster of places classed as safe to visit is on track to get longer when it is reviewed at the start of next month.
The positive signs came amid calls for countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added to the ‘green list’, with warnings that the UK travel industry is being left behind as Europe reopens.
Despite a series of ministers warning that people should not be going to amber-rated countries for holidays yet, hundreds of thousands of people have been braving quarantine and testing requirements to go anyway.
And millions more are believed to have gambled by booking trips to popular locations later in the summer.
‘There’s a heck of a lot of hassle involved,’ Mr Shapps told Sky News.
‘It’s expensive. We’re not at the stage of saying to people, go to those places on holiday, in fact, please don’t.’
It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (pictured) hinted that the ‘green list’ could be expanded amid mounting pressure for France, Spain, Italy and Greece to be added
But Mr Shapps said he wanted to see more countries added, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘The amber list and the red list are not for holidaymakers, that’s not the purpose of those lists at this time.
‘We just think that after a year of lockdowns in this country, of people coming forward in record numbers to get their vaccines, we do not want to be in a position of taking risks at this stage about our unlock.’
Asked if he was pushing for the green list to be extended he said: ‘Of course. The reason for that is we have ended up getting way ahead in terms of our vaccination programme in this country and we are just having to wait for other countries to catch up with us.
‘That’s going to gradually happen, obviously, you can see it’s happening, so that list should expand.’
Mr Shapps added: ‘We are reviewing this all the time, every three weeks, the next review is in the first week of June and we’ll have to see what happens.’
He said: ‘Our message is very straightforward, which is ‘just a little bit of patience, everyone’.
‘I know it’s been an incredibly tough year and there are extreme circumstance where people will feel that it is the right thing to do – perhaps because they have a sick family member and some extreme situations where they’ll travel in the orange category.
‘But by and large we are just asking people to be a little bit patient as other countries catch up with our world-leading vaccination programme and then people will be able to, I hope, travel.
‘We are returning to a world which looks more normal, I hope.’