AMONG the numerous tourist attractions gradually reopening across Spain, one which should be on every traveller's bucket list started taking in visitors today (Tuesday): Mérida's Roman city. The Mitreus House,...
Foreign holidaymakers to return by July, 'all being well'
Foreign holidaymakers to return by July, 'all being well'
By thinkSPAIN Team Fri, May 22, 2020
INTERNATIONAL tourism could be back on track by early July – in fact, deputy president and environment minister Teresa Ribera believes this to be almost a certainty.
Of course, precautions will apply, and the process of reopening Spain's borders to foreign holidaymakers will need to be a careful one, Sra Riberau (second picture) stresses – a 'mass restart' would be 'irresponsible' and 'could put the people of Spain in danger'.
“We'll have to move very carefully to make sure the person visiting us is not running a risk,” she explains.
“They'll be coming to a safe destination, but at the same time they must not present a risk to the local population.
“Our idea is that we can work on safe origins and destinations with a view to July rather than June.
“This will probably be encompassed with the rest of Spain's 'unlocking' process.”
She explains that the reappearance of Covid-19 in China, Singapore and South Korea were 'associated with imported cases' from outside the countries.
“We don't want this for the people of Spain,” she says.
“The figures for the Canary and Balearic Islands and Andalucía, which are extraordinary, offer us a sense of security right now, when there's no movement between provinces, when nobody is travelling to these regions who could be potentially infected. But if we allow a mass reopening, we could be acting irresponsibly.”
Sra Ribera assures that the European Union is very mindful of the fact that 'tourism is a major issue' across the bloc, and for this reason, ministers in all affected countries in health, tourism, transport and foreign affairs are 'working together to manage it with care'.
“There's already interest and demand among foreign holidaymakers for visiting Spain as soon as the pandemic is under control and the good weather comes,” she reveals.
“But the 'unlocking' needs to take place while the State of Alarm remains in place. It's difficult to imagine how we're going to limit people's movements from one region to another unless the State of Alarm remains as a global coordination umbrella.
“Otherwise, we could have uncomfortable, unpleasant and hard to deal with situations – like, for example, a coastal or rural location wants to limit movement from outside it, especially from cities with a high incidence of Coronavirus.”
Although she has not named any cities in question, it is likely Sra Ribera was thinking of Madrid and possibly Barcelona – both metropolitan areas, the first of these particularly, have been very severely hit by Covid-19, with their health services barely able to cope, whilst typical holiday hotspots such as the south and east coast, the islands, and idyllic, remote rural enclaves have, mostly, seen little incidence of Coronavirus; in some cases, hardly any at all.
And these holiday hotspots are where residents from Madrid, especially, tend to flock to in summer.
“Without a vaccine available, we can't sing victory yet, but the huge efforts everyone's been making in every part of the country have led to a fast recovery – there's still a risk of a second outbreak, of course, and having to take a step back in terms of our recent freedom from lockdown, but taking the correct steps and responding quickly to any risk means we can recover a large amount of our normal, everyday lives, even if that comes with some changes in social behaviour in general.
“There's a lot we can now do, but at the same time this doesn't mean movement of people can suddenly take off when we don't know whether we'll be able to manage it properly.”
“We're all in this together, and no government likes having to enforce a lockdown”
Teresa Ribera was asked whether there was any chance that the standard two weeks per 'Phase' of recovery could be reduced to allow all or part of Spain to regain its freedom more quickly.
“It would be rash to answer that confidently, but in principle, the government considers it's important to keep to the two-week phases,” Ribera says.
“If everything continues to go well, if all the early-detection schemes for the virus continue to gather strength, then we could move forward to a more optimistic scenario than the one we were handling at the beginning; however, for the moment, it's better we remain cautious.
“I'm afraid health has to come before any other factor – even before concerns about the economy – so let's make every effort to reinforce public health to enable us to move forward with the 'unlocking' rather than taking a step backwards.
She criticised the protests in the streets led by members of the public who support the largely right-wing opposition and who are railing against the continued lockdown situation.
“It's irresponsible – everyone's in this together, and it's not an issue that any government has invented or created, and in fact I don't believe there's a government anywhere that actually likes to have to deal with a scenario of this type,” says Sra Ribera, apparently perplexed at the public dissent.
“Spain is in a much stronger position in terms of identifying a hypothetical second outbreak at an early stage, and the efforts made by regional governments have considerably improved early diagnosis and isolation procedures, meaning if a further outbreak did occur, we'd all be able to react much faster, making it less of an emergency and far more controllable.
“We calculate that a large part of Spain's national territory could be ready to return to normality, albeit with a few new habits, by the end of June or beginning of July.”
More Travel/Tourism content
CONCERNS about foreign visitors being quarantined for a fortnight upon arrival in Spain voiced in the British press have proven unfounded – when Spanish borders reopen for international tourism, this requirement will...
HOLIDAY booking websites have reported their servers almost crashing as the rest of the world flocks online to grab themselves a trip to Spain. President Pedro Sánchez's announcement that it will now be safe to...
PARTS of Spain may be able to enter into 'Phase 2' of recovery within another week or two, and if the current warm weather holds out, will at last be able to go to the beach and use the pool. Although some...