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 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."