Spain relaxes entry rules for unvaccinated British holidaymakers

May 23, 2022

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Just as the summer holiday season begins to hot up, Spain has eased travel restrictions for U.K. holidaymakers.

Unvaccinated visitors are permitted to enter the country so long as they can provide a negative PCR or antigen test on arrival following updates to the Spanish restrictions on Saturday 21 May.

Previously, their only way past Spanish frontier guards was to produce an approved certificate of recent recovery from COVID-19.

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In 2019, 18.1 million Brits travelled to Spain – an average of 50,000 arrivals per day.

Fully vaccinated travellers, however, will still need to show proof of vaccination.

Announcing the step, Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said the “new phase of the pandemic” meant Spain could finally treat non-EU travellers (such as Brits) the same as those from EU and Schengen-associated countries.

“This is excellent news, much awaited by the tourism sector,” said Ms Maroto. “Spain is becoming one of the most desired destinations in the world.”

Related: 7 European destinations ideal for a cheap family vacation

All travellers must now present one of the following upon arrival in Spain:

  • Vaccination certificate meeting the government’s requirements
  • A negative test certificate, for either a PCR (within 72 hours) or rapid antigen (within 24 hours)
  • Certificate of recovery at least 11 days after testing positive

The news has been welcomed across the tourism sector, as operators in Britain and Spain prepare for one of the busiest summers of tourism in recent memory.

“This summer is expected to be the busiest holiday season since the start of the pandemic, with 70% of families saying they have a holiday abroad booked this year,” said The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta).

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However, there are also murmurs within the industry that Spanish authorities have not gone far enough in opening its borders to British travellers – who are by far Spain’s largest tourist group. Indeed, in 2019, 18.1 million Brits travelled to Spain – an average of 50,000 arrivals per day.

Describing it as “very good news just ahead of the May half-term and peak season,” Julia Lo Bue-Said from the Advantage Travel Partnership, an independent travel agent group, told the BBC: “However, it is disappointing that Spain has not gone further and removed the need for pre-arrival tests for unvaccinated travellers given the minimal benefit these tests have for public health.

“Consumers want to travel with ease and if destinations prohibit this, then they will go elsewhere.”

Britain opened its borders to all travellers, regardless of vaccination status on 18 March.

A number of other countries across Europe have since followed suit, including Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Sweden, Serbia, Slovenia and Slovakia.

Featured photo by Juergen Sack / Getty Images.

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