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TOURISM

Spain plans to welcome back tourists without restrictions from March 2021

Spain has ambitious plans for 2021 and hopes to welcome back tourists from as early as March.

Spain plans to welcome back tourists without restrictions from March 2021
Mallorca. Image: 4634656/Pixabay

Currently all arrivals to Spain must present a negative Covid-19 test taken less than 72 hours before travelling, however Spanish tourism authorities are hoping that this will not be the case by the time spring arrives.

Spain’s national tourism agency, Turespaña, will introduce a new 'Travel Safe' campaign which aims to encourage holidaymakers to return to the country, while giving them all the latest safety information and advice.

The new campaign was presented on December 3rd by the Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Reyes Maroto and the Director General of the national tourism board Turespaña, Miguel Sanz.

“With this campaign, we want to position the Spain tourism brand as an influencer in the security of journeys and to contribute to generating confidence among tourists to come to our country again,” Maroto told the International Travel & Health Journal.

A new section on the spain.info website is currently being created for the campaign which will feature information on matters such as local restrictions or restaurant capacity. It will also include an interactive map of Spain where tourists can find the details on anti-Covid measures wherever they choose to holiday in the country.

The campaign is estimated to cost around €2million and is expected to run for as long as there are coronavirus prevention measures in place.

Read Also: How Spain plans to bring tourists back in 2021

The Balearic Islands have been one of the main proponents of the campaign, with their tourism minister Iago Negueruela saying that safe tourism should start “from the end of March.”

He also explained that “there is the task of positioning, selling and explaining to the world that the Balearic Islands are a safe destination.”

Negueruela has already met with Sanz and has started preparing the promotional campaigns and positioning the Balearic Islands as a safe holiday destination.

Sanz agreed with Negueruela saying that “it is necessary that the tourism season starts as early as possible,” next year.

For this to happen, the epidemiological situation must be stabilised, the Turespaña head explained. 

“First we have to generate trust, this in turn will generate sales and arrival of tourists,” he concluded.  

Read Also: The stats that show the true devastation Covid has brought to Spain's tourism industry

Thanks to the recent announcements of successes of several vaccines, the islands have seen bookings jump for next year.  

According to ABTA (The Travel Association in the UK), bookings jumped by 30 percent, just after the UK government announced the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTechvaccine last week.

The Majorca Daily Bulletin reported the response to the vaccine was much better than forecast. A local tour operator told the website: “Most of the reservations were made for summer 2021, but with discounts on offer for March, April and May we are predicting that the tourist season will be better in 2021, even although it will still be around 50% less than 2019”.

Spanish package holidays, both to the Balearics and the mainland for summer 2021 are already on offer from companies such as Jet2 and Thomas Cook and are in high demand, reported WTX News.

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TOURISM

The architect trying to finish the Sagrada Familia after 138 years

Jordi Faulí is the seventh chief architect of Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia since Antoni Gaudi began work on the basilica in 1883, and he had been expected to oversee its long-awaited completion.

The architect trying to finish the Sagrada Familia after 138 years
Jordi Faulí is the seventh architect director of the Sagrada Familia following Antoni Gaudi and, for many, the one destined to finish it. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

But the pandemic has delayed efforts to finish this towering architectural masterpiece, which has been under construction for nearly 140 years, and it is no longer clear whether Faulí will still be in charge when it is finally done.

“I would like to be here for many more years, of course, but that’s in God’s hands,” says Faulí, 62, a wry smile on his lips.

He was just 31 when he joined the architectural team as a local in 1990 — the same age as Gaudi when the innovative Catalan architect began building his greatest work in the late 19th century, a project that would take up four decades of his life.

“When I arrived, only three of these columns were built and they were only 10 metres (33 feet) high,” he explains from a mezzanine in the main nave.

“I was lucky enough to design and see the construction of the entire interior, then the sacristy and now the main towers.”

When finished, the ornate cathedral which was designed by Gaudi will have 18 towers, the tallest of which will reach 172 metres into the air.

READ ALSO: Pandemic to delay completion fate for Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

The second-highest tower, which is 138 metres tall and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, will be officially inaugurated on Wednesday with the illumination of the gigantic 5.5-tonne star crowning its highest point.

It is the tallest of the nine completed towers and the first to be inaugurated since 1976.

The long-awaited completion of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia will no longer happen in 2026 because the coronavirus epidemic has curtailed its construction and frustrated funding, basilica officials admitted. Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP
 
Construction halted by Civil War

In 2019, the Sagrada Familia welcomed 4.7 million visitors, making it Barcelona’s most visited monument.

But it was forced to close in March 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, with its doors staying shut for almost a year.

This year, there have been barely 764,000 visitors, municipal figures show.

And as entry tickets are the main source of funding for the ongoing building works, the goal of finishing the basilica by 2026 to mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death — he was run over by a tram — has been abandoned.

“We can’t give any estimate as to when it will be finished because we don’t know how visitor numbers will recover in the coming years,” Faulí says.

It is far from the first time Gaudi’s masterpiece has faced such challenges.

During the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, construction work stopped and many of Gaudi’s design plans and models were destroyed.

For critics, this major loss means they do not view what was built later as Gaudi’s work, despite the research carried out by his successors.

READ ALSO: Central spire will make the Sagrada Familia tallest church in the world

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has only granted World Heritage status to the Sagrada Familia’s crypt and one of its facades, both of which were built during Gaudi’s lifetime.

But Faulí insists the project remains faithful to what Gaudi had planned as it is based on the meticulous study of photographs, drawings and testimony from the late Modernist architect.

UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, has only granted World Heritage status to the Sagrada Familia’s crypt and one of its facades, both of which were built during Gaudi’s lifetime. Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Some local opposition

Nominated chief architect of the project in 2012, Faulí took over at the head of a team of 27 architects and more than 100 builders.

Today, there are five architects and some 16 builders working to finish the Sagrada Familia.

“It is a lot of responsibility because it’s an iconic project, which many people have an opinion about,” says Faulí.

Building such a vast monument which draws huge numbers of visitors is not welcomed by everyone, with some arguing that the hoards of visiting tourists are destroying the area.

Many also oppose plans to build an enormous staircase leading up to the main entrance, the construction of which will involve the demolition of several buildings, forcing hundreds to relocate.

“My life is here and they want to throw me out,” says one sign on a balcony near the Sagrada Familia.

Faulí said he understands their concerns and wants to find “fair solutions” through dialogue.

And if he could ask Gaudi one question? Faulí pauses to reflect for a few moments.

“I would ask him about his underlying intentions and what feelings he wanted to communicate through his architecture,” he says.

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