Spain likely to stay closed for international tourism until the end of summer 2021

Pedro Sanchez - Spain might stay closed for tourism until the end of summer

Spanish business owners’ hopes to restart the tourism industry by spring came crashing down after Pedro Sánchez, Spain Prime Minister announced the country will not be welcoming tourists to Spain until “end of summer” 2021. 

The announcement was made at the 113th meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization held in Madrid yesterday. 

According to the Minister, a progressive reopening for international tourism will be possible only after 70% of the Spaniards are vaccinated.

“The government is working on vaccinating at the greatest possible rate. Spain is in fact the ninth country in the world in terms of vaccination and one of the leaders in Europe.” Said Sanchez. 

First man to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Spain
First man to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Spain – Europa Press / R. Rubio

This alarming news for locals and travelers came not long after the National Statistics Institute (INE) revealed that last year the country received €110 billion less in tourism money than in 2019, and had a drop in visitors close to 90%.

In December 2020, Spain registered 3.89 million jobless people and 755,000 employees living on a state-supported program.

But, foreseeing some sort of protests following this announcement, Sanchez briefly explained how the 2021 budget will be getting Spaniards’ backs. 

The government, he said, has appointed €660 million euros to the tourism industry, €150 million euros for the rehabilitation of facilities for tourism use, €64 million for digital transformation of the industry and €46 million euros for “resilience strategy”, meant to help the Balearic and the Canary Islands fast recovery. 

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the pandemic worldwide. Over the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry reported 41,576 new positive cases, the highest number seen in a 24-hour period since the virus first broke out.

As of yet, COVID-19 patients are occupying almost 20% of all hospital regular beds and more than 35% of the ICUs. This overwhelming figure had not been recorded across hospitals since the first wave of infections.