Spain's tourism minister: 'We're ready to welcome back tourists'
Rahul Pathak in Madrid

Spain's tourism minister has exclusively told CGTN Europe that her country was ready to welcome back tourists and host large-scale face-to-face events. 

Reyes Maroto was speaking at the FITUR International Tourism fair in Madrid, the largest trade expo of its kind in the world.  


The event was taking place at the IFEMA conference center almost a year to the day that it had closed its doors as Spain's largest pandemic field hospital.

A year on, and it was welcoming the world as it hosted FITUR.

More than 50,000 were expected to attend the three-day trade fair, by far the biggest public gathering to take place in Spain since the pandemic, and the biggest test of the country's ability to hold large face-to-face events safely.

Attending the event was Reyes Maroto, Spain's Tourism Minister.  Speaking to CGTN Europe she said a successful FITUR proved to the world that Spain and Europe was open for business. 

"The decision to run this event is not just about tourism," she said. 

"It's that we can now begin to be here. The idea is to show that Spain is a tourist destination with all the safety measures needed for an expo like this where there is no problem to hold face to face event like this."

Spain's tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, speaking to CGTN Europe at the FITUR International Tourism fair in Madrid.

Spain's tourism minister, Reyes Maroto, speaking to CGTN Europe at the FITUR International Tourism fair in Madrid.

There are more than 5,000 delegates at the event plus exhibitors from more than 60 countries – although this is a huge reduction from last year's event which had 165 nations represented 

As well as the reduced capacity, all attendees also have to pass an antigen COVID-19 test 24 hours before they arrive.

Like the tourism minister, the organizers hope that the return of FITUR will be a turning point for the travel industry after the sector was decimated by the financial impact of the pandemic.

In the last 12 months Spain's tourism industry suffered a shortfall of 70 million international tourists plus 92 million trips from Spanish nationals, with losses exceeding $122 million compared to 2019.

As well as showcasing Spain's most important industry to the world, this event could also offer a blueprint for the rest of Europe on how to hold large public events safely and securely.

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