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Published on Friday, January 22, 2021

Spain flags tourism return 'at the end of the summer'

Spain will only fully re-open its doors to overseas tourists once most of its population has been vaccinated, raising the prospect that it may be off limits to many Brits until the end of the summer.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said only mass vaccinations will pave the way for 'the normality we want' as he warned tourism will only return progressively when 70% of Spaniards have been vaccinated.

That target is likely to be reached only towards the end of the summer, he told a meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

While multiple reports suggested Brits could effectively be barred from Spain for most of the 2021 summer, it is unclear whether that will be the case.

English language Euro Weekly News and the Canarian Weekly both interpreted the remarks as a tacit acknowledgement that overseas tourists will be kept to a minimum until late summer.

One UK agent said he has already fielded 'lots of calls' from customers.

"Not looking good," he wrote on Travel Gossip.

Sanchez told the UNWTO: "The Government is working hard to vaccinate people at the highest possible rate, and in fact Spain is the ninth ranked country in the world in vaccinations so far, and one of the top in Europe."

Reaching 70% of the population 'by the end of the summer' will allow Spain 'to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists', he said. 

"Only mass vaccinations will open the way to the normality that we want," he added.

The remarks came as fears continued to grow that a strong European summer season was more wishful thinking than a genuine possibility.

In a video circulating on Travel Gossip, Heatlh Secretary Matt Hancock said there was 'a chance' of international travel resuming but warned the emergence of new Covid variants was creating complications.

Should a variant enter the UK and be able to evade vaccinations, the country will be 'back to square one', he said.

"Tougher international restrictions are the price that, for instance, Australia has paid for strong doemstic protection," he said.

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