This coming Easter week, the Spanish government has agreed on a perimeter closure of the regions in order to reduce movement across the country and to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
However, the restrictions do not apply to the border Spain shares with the rest of the European Union – and non-essential travel is currently permitted to and from the country from other EU States.
This week has seen thousands of German tourists flocking to Mallorca, with tens of thousands more planning to enjoy an Easter break in the Balearic Islands – whilst citizens living on mainland Spain are not allowed to travel there during Easter, due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions.
On Monday, the European Commission asked Spain for ‘coherency’ with regards to the travel restrictions within its own national territory and with respect to journeys to and from other European countries – underlining that the risks linked to the spread of Covid-19 are similar – in the case of both internal and cross border travel.
Justice spokesperson for the EU’s Community Executive, Christophe Wigand, highlighted on Monday that the European Commission’s recommendation ‘clearly states that given the similarity in transmission [of the virus] and risks involved with domestic and cross-border travel, member states should assure coherence in the application of measures to both types of travel’.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya defended that the travel restrictions imposed by Spain are ‘aligned’. On Monday, she stressed that ‘Spain is scrupulously following all community recommendations to control Coronavirus in our territory’.
Meanwhile, with regards cross-border travel, Spain’s Minister of Tourism, Reyes Maroto, said at a business forum this week that the country’s ‘ideal’ objective would be the recovery of half of the tourists that Spain received pre-pandemic – that is, around 40 million visitors.
In 2019, Spain received more than 83 million foreign tourists. During 2020, however, the figure plummeted 80% due to restrictions on mobility derived from the health crisis, the country only receiving 19 million visitors – the lowest figure since 1969.
The tourism minister expressed her conviction that, as the vaccination processes progress in the main tourist-sending countries (UK and Germany), part of the lost mobility can be recovered – with hopes pinned on the influx of tourists for the summer period.
‘This year is going to be a year of transition. Clearly, we are going to start to reactivate tourism in the summer and we will only have six months,’ said Maroto, who assured that reaching that figure would be ‘an achievement’, as it would mean repositioning the destination to encourage international tourism to visit Spain.
Maroto also underlined her trust regarding the evolution of the vaccination process, and the possibility of an EU sanctioned vaccine passport in the near future – in allowing partial recovery of the tourism sector during the summer months.
The minister said, ‘I think there will be better conditions this summer. We have security elements such as the digital certificate, vaccination will advance, and therefore we will have more security to move – without this being an element that goes against the priority, which is to combat the pandemic’.