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TRAVEL NEWS

TRAVEL: Spain to scrap Covid temperature and visual checks 

From October 20th, non-EU travellers arriving in Spain will no longer undergo health checks by airport officials to assess if they have Covid-19, sources from Spanish airport manager Aena are quoted as saying. 

temperature checks airports spain
A passenger wearing a face mask has his temperature taken at an airport in Spain. The country's Health Ministry also recently confirmed that since September 20th it has stopped asking international travellers to complete the Spth health control form to present upon arrival in Spain. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP)

Spanish health authorities are reportedly planning to remove another Covid-19 travel restriction: temperature and visual checks on international passengers arriving in Spain. 

This has been reported by Catalan newspaper El Periódico, although it has not yet been officially confirmed by the country’s Health Ministry. 

Since the start of the pandemic, passengers arriving by air or sea in Spain have had their temperature checked by airport authorities in order to assess if they had a high temperature, with either thermal cameras at security gates or infrared thermometers pointed at their foreheads.

Visual evaluations to see if passengers display clear signs of being infected with Covid-19 have also been carried out.

In theory, if the screening suggests passengers could well have Covid-19, they are required to carry out a Covid-19 test at the airport before being allowed to leave.

It is also possible that passengers are asked what non-EU country they were travelling from for officials to cross-check this against Spain’s list of high-risk countries.

It’s worth noting that as the pandemic has evolved, these tests at Spanish airports have become far less rigorous than they were initially.

Passengers arriving from another EU country have for some time now not gone through such screening, but those arriving from outside of the bloc technically are still subject to checks, even though there are no third countries on Spain’s Covid high-risk list anymore.

Additionally, it is no longer mandatory to self-isolate if you test positive for the coronavirus in Spain, even though limiting social interactions is advised.

According to Catalonia’s El Periódico, sources from Spain’s public airport manager Aena have confirmed that these health controls at airports and seaports across Spain will continue until Thursday October 20th 2022, when they will officially end.  

Spain’s Health Ministry did recently confirm that from September 20th it would stop asking international travellers to complete the Spth health control form to present upon arrival in Spain, but the state bulletin (BOE) did not put in writing the end of temperature and visual checks at airports and seaports. 

Some Spanish newspapers have reported that such checks also ended on September 20th, but this is not correct as the BOE refers to the cancellation of anex 8 and 9, which relate to the Spth health control form and cruiseship travel restrictions. 

As of September 27th 2022, the Aena website states: “It is no longer necessary to complete the health screening form to travel to Spain or to present the QR code at the destination airport. Passengers on flights from countries outside the European Union or the Schengen Area may be subjected to a health check that includes a visual check of their physical condition and temperature taking with non-contact thermometers or thermographic cameras.”

If the end of temperature and visual checks is confirmed by Spanish health authorities, the only two remaining Covid travel restrictions in Spain will be mask wearing on planes and other means of transport as well as proof of vaccination, testing or recovery from non-EU tourist arrivals.

READ MORE: Do you still need Covid-19 documents to travel to Spain?

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TRAVEL NEWS

EXPLAINED: The new tourism tax in Spain’s Valencia region

Spain’s Valencian Community has become the latest territory to introduce a tourism tax for holidaymakers staying in all types of accommodation in the region. Here’s how much extra it will cost tourists and why it’s a controversial measure.

EXPLAINED: The new tourism tax in Spain’s Valencia region

What’s the Valencia region’s new tourism tax?

On Thursday November 24th, Valencia’s regional parliament approved a tourism tax that’s been in the pipeline for years.

It will come into force in the popular coastal region at the end of 2023 or early 2024. 

The tourism tax will be applied to all types of tourism accommodation in the Valencia region, from hotels to campsites, hostels, country houses, tourist apartments and docked boats and yachts. Holidaymakers arriving on cruise ships will also pay.

Tourists will pay between 50 cents and €2 per night and per person depending on the type of accommodation they choose, for a maximum of seven nights.

That means that a couple spending a week at a five or four-star hotel in Valencia will pay €28 more on average as a result of the tourism tax.

People with a disability level of 66 percent or above, under-16s, guests on Spain’s pensioner Imserso scheme and people under 30 staying at hostels are among those who will not be charged extra to incorporate the tax.

Even though it’s called a tourism tax, residents of the Valencia region will also have to pay it if they stay at short-term accommodation in their territory.

The levy will be compulsory but individual municipalities in the region of 5 million inhabitants will be able to decide whether to apply it to their tourism accommodation or not. 

Left-wing coalition party Compromís described the tourism tax as a “small contribution” for holidaymakers to pay.

Why has the tourism tax been introduced and why is it controversial?

The legislation states that all the proceeds be reinvested into the sustainable development of the tourism sector of La Comunitat Valenciana, which is home to Alicante, Benidorm and other popular tourist spots on the Costa Blanca. 

Such funds would partly go to addressing the issue of a lack of affordable and available housing for locals in popular tourism spots.

“I prefer that tourists pay more rather than see Valencians paying more in taxes,” Valencia city’s left-wing mayor Joan Ribó said last July about the fact that the large volume of holidaymakers in the city puts extra pressure on municipal resources, from cleaning to security.

“I’ve been to cities with a tourism tax and I haven’t considered not going because of it”.

But the measure doesn’t have the support of all of Valencia’s main political parties, with 51 votes in favour and 46 against in Thursday’s vote.

Hoteliers and hospitality associations are also against the tax, seeing it as a stumbling block on their way to recovery after the losses incurred since the pandemic.

Even regional tourism secretary Francesc Colomer said that a report by Alicante University had found that in the medium term the tourism tax would not be appropriate to introduce.

That same report covered the potential difficulty of implementing this tax and the problems it could cause, as many tour operators may look for new destinations where this tax is not required.

Where else are there tourism taxes?

Two other regions in Spain already have a tourism tax in place: Catalonia since 2012 and the Balearic Islands since 2016. 

Tourists in Catalonia pay between €0.60 and €3.50 extra a night (an extra €1.75 is added in Barcelona), whereas in Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera it’s usually €3 per night and per person.

Tourism taxes are also applied in other European countries such as the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovenia and Slovakia, where a fixed price is applied regardless of the type of accommodation.

However, in cities with large volumes of tourists such as Amsterdam, Berlin or Vienna the tourist pays a percentage (7, 5 and 3 percent respectively) on the amount they pay per night for their accommodation.

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