Discussions have taken place this week between authorities in Valencia and the UK about the possibility of extending the 90-day length of stay rule for non-residents in Spain that has come into force following Brexit.
It also coincides with the release of encouraging data for the Spanish tourism sector released this week, that show a sharp rise in international travellers in September and signs that tourism could rebound to pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
Since 1 January, UK nationals who are non-resident in Spain can only spend up to 90 days in each 180-day period in the country.
For many regular visitors to Spain’s Costa Blanca, previous trips before Brexit had been for periods of four or five months over the winter, to stay with family or friends or in property owned by British nationals.
The new rules have curtailed the ability to do this and the authorities in Valencia are keen to address this barrier to travelling to Spain, to encourage British visitors to return to the region for longer periods, as they are seen as an important part of the regional economy.
The president of Alicante’s Provincial Council, Carlos Mazón, met with the Spanish Ambassador in London, José Pascual Marco Martínez, to discuss the issue and possible solutions.
Explaining the importance of why the region wants to ease the existing travel restraints, Mazón said that, ‘British residents in Alicante Province are a source of wealth for us and one of our best ambassadors for increasing British tourism on the Costa Blanca.’
Mazón went on to clarify why the change should be made, by reference to reciprocal rules, saying that ‘we are working on reciprocity so that they can stay for six months when they come to visit us, because they are the same circumstances in which Spaniards can come to England’.
Following the meeting, Mazón was pleased to have conveyed his concerns, saying that ‘the meeting was very satisfactory, and the ambassador was made clear of the priorities of Alicante Province, which with its 70,000 British residents, is the most British province in Spain’.
El presidente @CarlosMazon40 se reúne en #Londres con el Embajador de España en Reino Unido, José Pascual Marco, para abordar la situación de los residentes británicos en la provincia, tras el #Brexit 🇬🇧— Diputación Alicante (@dipuAlicante) November 2, 2021
Le acompañan Toni Pérez (@BenidormAyto) y @jfmancebo (@costablancaorg) 🔹 pic.twitter.com/ZvPl4WGc5S
Mazón also had the support of the president of the Valencian government, Ximo Puig, who has expressed concern about the 90 day rule and the negative impact it has had on British home buyers in the region, who previously had been a significant part of the house buying market.
The region includes some of the most popular towns for British second home buyers and those looking to permanently relocate to Spain, including Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela and Calpe.
Speaking at the World Travel Market in London this week, Puig said that he was in discussions with Spain’s Tourism Ministry about making it easier for British nationals to spend more than 90 out of 180 days in the region without the need for a visa.
He specifically referred to the ‘British residents in the Valencian region, future home buyers and people who come to visit their families’.
The discussions this week follow positive data about international travel to Spain, that highlighted a sharp rise in visitor numbers in September.
The data, issued by the National Statistics Office, revealed that nearly 4.7 million foreign tourists visited Spain during the month, being more than four times the level seen last September.
Spain’s Tourism Minister, Reyes Maroto, said that ‘this data confirms a reactivation of international tourism is underway and that in 2022 we could recover pre-pandemic levels’.
A high vaccination rate, low case numbers and no requirement for proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to enter restaurants or bars, are all cited as reasons why Spain is attracting more tourists than other countries.
Related economic data was also encouraging, with overseas tourists spending 5.04 billion euros in September. This is a significant increase on the 964 million euros spent in the previous September, but still some way below the 9.62 billion euros spent in September 2019, before the pandemic.