People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along a comercial street in downtown Madrid, Spain, Saturday, June 5, 2021. Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting across much of Europe. Vaccination rates are accelerating, and with them, the promise of summer vacations. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus walk along a comercial street in downtown Madrid, Spain, Saturday, June 5, 2021. Coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths are plummeting across much of Europe. Vaccination rates are accelerating, and with them, the promise of summer vacations. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

To the beach! Spain opens borders to tourists, cruise ships

Spanish government hopes to welcome 14.5 million to 15.5 million visitors between July and September

Spain jump-started its summer tourism season on Monday by welcoming vaccinated visitors from most countries as well as European tourists who can prove they are not infected with coronavirus. It also reopened its ports to cruise ships.

The move opened borders for the first tourists from the United States and other countries outside of the European Union since those travelers were banned in March last year, when the pandemic hit global travel.

Matthew Eisenberg, a 22-year-old student, excitedly stepped out of Madrid airport, ready to enjoy the Spanish capital along with two more American friends.

“We came to Spain the first day we could, because we are very excited to travel here,” Eisenberg said, showing a certificate for the two Moderna vaccine jabs he received in February and March.

But Spain is still banning nonessential travelers from Brazil, India and South Africa, where virus variants have been been a major source of concern.

Visitors need proof they were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before the trip or that they overcame a COVID-19 infection in the past six months. The certificates can be in Spanish, English, French or German — or their equivalent translations in Spanish, the government order said.

The vaccines accepted are those approved by Europe’s drug regulator — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson — as well as two Chinese vaccines authorized by the World Health Organization, Sinopharm and Sinovac.

The same documents will be valid for visitors from the European Union until the bloc fully rolls out its “Digital Green Certificate” as expected on July 1. Spain on Monday joined seven other EU countries already implementing the scheme.

Alfredo González, an official in charge of digital health and innovation at Spain’s Health Ministry, said the certificate is not a passport but a document that eases mobility across Europe.

“Without the certificate, travel will be possible, but the entry in every country will be slower and controls such as quarantines could apply,” said González, adding that all airports had established fast-track channels with technology able to confirm the digital certificates issued by other EU countries.

Beginning Monday, non-vaccinated travelers from the EU’s 27 countries could also enter Spain with the negative results of recent coronavirus antigen tests, which are cheaper and faster than PCR tests.

The Spanish government hopes to welcome 14.5 million to 15.5 million visitors between July and September. That’s about 40% of the tourists in the same period of 2019 but twice as many as last summer, when only EU visitors could enter Spain.

Tourism is a major industry that in 2019 accounted for over 12% of Spain’s GDP.

In a setback, many British tourists who love Southern Europe’s beaches aren’t expected in large numbers yet because they must quarantine upon their return to the U.K.

Still, Manchester resident Randolph Sweeting said his holiday on the Spanish island of Mallorca was worth the mandatory self-isolation when he gets home.

“I was here twice last year and when I went home I had to quarantine on my own for two weeks. So it’s not a problem for me, I’ve done it before,” the 68-year-old said at the Palma de Mallorca airport.

Belén Sanmartín, director of the Melià Calvià Beach Hotel in Mallorca, said that the U.K. government’s decision to keep Spain in its list of higher-risk territories was hard to understand in the Balearic Islands, where the infection rate is lower than in Britain.

“It has been a big disappointment, because we were ready to receive visitors from the British market,” Sanmartín said, adding that bookings in her hotel were slowly picking up, thanks to Spanish mainlanders and German and French tourists.

In another move to boost tourism, Spanish ports opened to cruise ships on Monday, nearly 15 months after they were banned.

After peaking in late January at nearly 900 new cases per 100,000 residents in 14 days, Spain’s coronavirus contagion indicator has dropped to 115 per 100,000. Still, its descent has slowed down in the past days as new infections spread among unvaccinated groups.

Spain has counted over 80,000 COVID-19 deaths in the pandemic.

—Francisco Ubilla And Alicia León, The Associated Press

RELATED: B.C. teacher returns from Spain, makes impassioned plea to Canadians

Tourismtravel

Just Posted

Soccer games returned to Max Turyk in Fernie this May and June, after a year-long break due to COVID. (Contributed by Yori Jamin)
Fernie kids get stuck into soccer

Youth soccer games returned to Max Turyk for May and June after a year-long break

A small scale example of how big the maximus dinosaur is compared to Sparwood's Titan truck. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)
Sparwood goes digging for fossils (maybe)

The district is exploring options that could see it acquire a giant dinosaur skeleton

Pride and Transgender flags wave on the lawn of Fernie's City Hall. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)
Fernie Pride launches inclusivity survey

The survey will help identify gaps in supports for the LGBTQ2+ community in the Elk Valley

The freshly re-painted rainbow crossings in Fernie in 2021. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Rainbow crossings come to Fernie

Volunteers painted the crossings at 3rd Ave and 5th Street in Fernie in pride colours

Coal Creek and forested land near Fernie, B.C. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Elk Valley Regional Land Trust inks deal with Community Foundation of Kootenay Rockies

Donations to the trusts project to secure forested land in the Elk Valley can now be made through the CFKR

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

Most Read