Spring break: how Spain plans to welcome back tourists before summer

Spring break: how Spain plans to welcome back tourists before summer
A beach in Magaluf on the Balearic island of Mallorca. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP
The Spanish government has said it will allow tourists to visit Spain as soon as 30 to 40 percent of its population has been vaccinated, backtracking on its previous plan to open up when the vaccine rollout was 70 percent complete. 

Up until now Spanish authorities have said that the target of 70 percent, largely referred to as the benchmark to achieve herd immunity, would be when Spain’s tourism machine would kickstart again, which according to their initial estimates would coincide with the summer season. 

However, whether due to fears that that amount won’t be reached in time for summer or because of pressure from competitors such as Greece trying to allow British tourists back by May, Spain’s Tourism Ministry has revised – or rather halved –  its target figure.

“The government’s vaccination campaign is going as planned, so that in spring around 30-40 percent of the population will be vaccinated and by the end of summer 70 percent,” Spanish Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Reyes Maroto said in an interview on Canal Sur Radio.

“When we have that vaccination percentage in spring, we will be able to begin reopening our tourism destinations in line with what we are working on with the European Union (EU).”

As of Tuesday March 9th, only 3 percent of Spain’s population has received both Covid-19 vaccines doses, around 1.4 million people out of its 47 million inhabitants. 

In total, Spain has injected 4.6 million doses of the vaccine, giving more people second doses than the UK, but still a very long way from 70 percent and even 30 percent for that matter.

READ MORE: How is Spain’s vaccination campaign going in each region?

But Spain’s Tourism Minister remains “optimistic”.

“In April, we’ll receive 5 million doses from Pfizer alone. Add those to the doses of Moderna, AstraZeneca and Jansen, which is just one dose, and which should be approved in the next few days; it’s going to give (the vaccination campaign) a big push,” she argued.

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Although an exact date wasn’t mentioned for the reopening of tourism in Spain, if current vaccine deliveries and targets are met, this could happen by late April or May.

However, inter-regional travel this Easter in Spain for residents continues to be strictly off the table for the national government, despite opposition from the Balearic and Canary Islands. 

Spain has been pushing for vaccine passports to be accepted by the EU and has suggested it would reach bilateral agreements regarding safe travel corridors with third countries such as the UK if the bloc couldn’t decide on a common travel plan. 

Spain lost an estimated €72 billion in tourism revenue during 2020 and saw a drop in 65 million tourists. 

Another summer without foreign visitors will be devastating for the country’s economy. 

Tourism was Spain’s most important sector accounting for almost 15 percent of the country’s GDP and providing 2.8 million people with work before the Covid-19 pandemic.


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