It seems increasingly likely that Spanish holidays might be cancelled until September.
The country’s Prime Minister suggested in a speech this week that Spain won’t allow mass tourism again until 70% of its population has been vaccinated.
Speaking at a meeting of the World Tourism Organisation, Pedro Sanchez said this was likely to be in late summer.
The current ban on tourists could be lifted earlier, but he said Spain won’t be ready for large numbers of international arrivals until the end of the summer season.
This could prompt UK tour operators to cancel holidays to Spain or reduce the size of their programmes.
Jet2holidays has already cancelled some Spanish holidays for July and August as well as holidays to some other destinations.
What are Spain’s restrictions for UK travellers?
Spain has banned UK visitors until 2 February. This ban seems likely to be extended, if the PM’s speech is anything to go by.
The ban also includes the Canary Islands.
Only Spanish nationals and those legally resident in Spain are allowed in. Anyone aged six and over must present a negative PCR Covid test, taken no more than 72 hours earlier.
When will Spain lift its entry ban?
Once 70% of the country has been vaccinated, it will “progressively” prepare to welcome back foreign tourists, said Mr Sanchez.
Spain was one of the first countries in Europe to start vaccinating against Covid-19.
And it claims to be ninth in the world for the vaccination rollout.
It aims to have vaccinated more than two-thirds of its population by the end of the summer season.
Can Spain afford to ban British tourists this summer?
No doubt about it, this will be a tough decision for the Spanish and it’s going to hit them hard in the pocket.
Even back in 2016, British tourists were spending almost £8 billion a year in Spain’s resorts and cities.
In 2019, we made 14 million trips to Spain, which is by far the UK’s most popular holiday destination.
Last summer, it was one of the first countries to welcome back British tourists after we appeared to have coronavirus under control.
But Prime Minister Sanchez suggested Spain might use the latest lockdown to reassess its tourism product and come up with a more “sustainable” tourism industry.
What ministers usually mean by “sustainable tourism” is fewer sangria-swilling budget travellers and more high-spending, usually older, guests.
The UK has its own travel restrictions
Holidays are banned under the rules of the latest lockdown. The ban is indefinite, but the Government has said it will last at least until mid-February and it is likely to continue until the end of March – or maybe even longer.
Additionally, the UK Foreign Office is advising against holidays in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands. It is not advising against travel to the Canaries (once the UK lockdown ends), which have a lower rate of Covid cases.
You must have a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before you return to the UK. You must also quarantine for up to 10 days in the UK. These measures are temporary with no indication from the Government if they will be lifted when the latest lockdown ends.