UK residents may not be allowed to visit Spain until after summer - here's why
Spain has announced plans to have 70 per cent of its population vaccinated by the summer, creating a possibility for visitors from the UK to return.
Flights to and from the popular holiday destination are currently suspended until 2 February, after a Covid-19 mutation saw tighter travel restrictions pop up across Europe.
‘Better prepared to receive international tourists’
Speaking at the 113th meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation, held in Madrid on 20 January, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez raised the prospect that tourism could restart by the end of the summer.
“Our internal plan is to promote a strategy that includes vaccination of the Spanish population at the highest possible rate,” he said.
"We are already the ninth country in the world in the vaccination process and one of the first countries in Europe.
"And we are going to advance with the vaccination at the highest rate until reaching 70 per cent of the population with immunity by the end of the summer.
"This will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists."
The news will undoubtedly be disappointing for Spain’s tourism sector, which lost £94 billion due to effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the Sun Online Travel, the Balearic Island tourist board said the vaccine rollout in the UK and Spain has left it feeling “ambitious” that tourists could return by summer or even spring time.
A spokesperson said: “Given our proximity to the UK, the extensive network of UK flight connections to the islands and our long and positive shared tourism history, we feel very confident that we will have a positive 2021 summer season."
Spain still reporting high infection numbers
Despite the increased vaccine rollout, Spain is continuing to see high numbers of Covid-19 cases.
The Spanish Health Ministry reported 41,576 new cases, the highest daily figure since the pandemic started. The country’s rolling seven day average is currently 37,986, and it has seen 55,041 coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Covid-19 patients are now occupying nearly 20 per cent of hospital beds in the country, and more than 35 per cent of intensive care units. The figures are higher than the country recorded across hospitals during the first wave in March 2020.