China among select nations offered quarantine exemption by Spain
Rahul Pathak in Madrid


Spain has lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions for countries including the UK and China, as the government aims to boost its vital tourism industry. 

Madrid says Chinese and British travelers, as well as those from Japan and seven other nations, will be considered able to travel to the country for non-essential reasons. 

Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said at the end of last week that from Monday tourists from the UK, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Israel, and Rwanda could enter the country without having to present a PCR test, go into mandatory quarantine or provide a vaccine certificate.

Travelers will instead be asked to fill out a health form before arrival. The move is expected to significantly boost the country's tourism sector in time for the usually busy summer season.


Tourism revival

Tourism is Spain's most significant source of income. Pre-pandemic, it generated more than 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), when it was the second most visited nation in the world.

This year it hopes to welcome around 45 million foreign tourists, just over half the pre-pandemic total registered in 2019.

At Madrid's Barajas airport on Monday evening, travelers were happy to be in Spain. 

"I just came from London Heathrow. It feels alright because if you don't have to do a PCR test, that's 100 pounds [$142] you don't have to spend, and then you feel safe on the plane everyone has their mask on. It just feels normal to go back to holiday again, so I guess that's alright," one holidaymaker told CGTN Europe.

Another woman added: "It actually feels nice because it's starting to feel like everything is going back to normal little by little. Still feels a little weird, though."


Holidaymakers enjoy Spain's sunny climate. /AFP/Pau Barenna.

Holidaymakers enjoy Spain's sunny climate. /AFP/Pau Barenna.


'You deserve Spain'

The lifting of restrictions coincides with the launch of a new promotional campaign by the Spanish government entitled "You Deserve Spain."

The campaign will highlight the different kinds of holiday Spain can offer, from the sun and the beach to nature tourism and city breaks.

The campaign will run between May and July, and organizers hope it will garner up to 450 million views on social media.

Already the evidence seems to confirm that people are desperate to travel. It's reported that 100,000 Britons are expected to fly to Spain this week.

In an additional boost to tourism, Sanchez has announced that fully vaccinated people from any country will be able to enter Spain from June 7.

"From June 7, all vaccinated people and their families will be welcome in our country, Spain, regardless of their country of origin," Sanchez said at an international tourism fair in Madrid.

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