Spain marks 21 June as the start of tourism season
June 15, 2020
Last Update: 2020-06-15 10:59:14
It's a summer of sun, sea and social distancing in Spain as the country pushes forward the official start date of its tourism season to 21 June.
Spain had originally intended to reopen its borders to all Schengen Zone member states on 1 July but that date has been pushed forward to 21 June. However, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has stated that the country's land borders with Portugal will remain closed until 1 July at the request of the Portuguese government. Restrictions will also remain in place for visitors from the UK and non-Schengen countries within the EU until 1 July.
"Spain needs tourism, and tourism needs safety in both origin and destination. We will guarantee that tourists will not run any risks and they will not bring us any risks,” Mr Sánchez said in an address to the nation in May. "There will be no opposing forces between health and business. Spanish tourism will now have two hallmarks: environmental sustainability and health safety."
Spain's Balearic islands have begun a "safe tourist corridors" pilot scheme to help Spain revive its tourism sector. The islands were not as heavily impacted from the coronavirus as the mainland and have therefore kickstarted their tourism season early. From 15 June, thousands of German holidaymakers will begin to arrive in the islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza over the coming days under a "safe tourist corridors" pilot scheme.
Under the scheme, they will not have to quarantine and they will not be tested for the coronavirus. Instead they will have their temperatures checked upon arrival, provide authorities with their vacation contact details and will be monitored throughout their stay. The Canary Islands are testing a similar scheme for visitors in the second half of the month.
New social distancing measures will apply to beaches and parks ©Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock
Spain is the world's second-most visited destination after France and receives 80 million international visitors per year. When a state of emergency was declared on 25 March and borders were sealed, the tourism sector - which accounts for roughly 12% of the country’s GDP - came to a standstill.
It was one of the worst-hit countries of the coronavirus pandemic but the prime minister advised the nation that the "worst is over". While the threat of the virus is still present, Mr Sánchez said the country is "seeing light at the end of the tunnel" but urged residents and visitors to remain prudent. By the time tourists arrive in late June, the country should be in phase four of its lockdown deescalation plan, which will see most limits on movements relaxed and hospitality and tourism businesses in operation with new health and safety measures.