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

After clocking in at 207km/hr in Maple Ridge, the driver’s car was impounded, and their licence was suspended. (File photo)
Speedster busted travelling 127 km/hr over limit in Maple Ridge

RCMP nabbed the offender on Lougheed Highway and 287 Street this weekend

Building Interfaith Bridges organized a special crossing of Dewdney Trunk Road in commemoration of the Afzaal family who were killed in London, Ontario. (Special to The News)
Group marches across Maple Ridge intersection for Muslim family killed in Ontario

Participants dressed in traditional outfits to create awareness against Islamophobia

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Old-growth logging tip of a much bigger issue

Letter writer erects flagpole and fly national and provincial flags upside down as sign of distress

A rendering of the proposed six-storey apartment building on Dewdney Trunk Road. (Billard Architecture)
Green rooftop planned on Maple Ridge condo building

Council considers 127-unit apartment building on Dewdney Trunk Road

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maple Ridge high school has COVID-19 exposure

Westview secondary is latest listed by Fraser Health

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

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

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

Most Read