Spain's tourism minister says country WILL be open to Brits by summer and wants return of holidaymakers in weeks

SPAIN will be open to Brits this summer and wants holidaymakers to start returning within weeks, its tourism minister has said.

Reyes Maroto appeared to contradict Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who said it wouldn’t be until 70 per cent of the population was vaccinated, around Autumn, that tourists would be allowed.

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While flights to and from Spain have been suspended until February 2, due to the new Covid strain, the popular holiday destination hopes to welcome back tourists later this year.

Maroto insisted the country would begin to open up from the spring.

"Our priority in 2021 is to reactivate tourism and resume safe mobility on a global scale as soon as possible," she said.

"We hope that at the end of spring and especially during the summer, international travel will resume and travellers will choose Spain as their destination.'

Spain is the favourite destination of British holidaymakers and more than 18 million went there in 2019.

Speaking in Madrid, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said he wants to vaccinate the majority of the population before opening the country back up to international visitors.

He said: "Our internal plan is to promote a strategy that includes vaccination of the Spanish population at the highest possible rate.

"We are already the ninth country in the world in the vaccination process and one of the first countries in Europe.

"And we are going to advance with the vaccination at the highest rate until reaching 70 per cent of the population with immunity by the end of the summer.

"This will allow Spain to be progressively better prepared to receive international tourists."

The Balearic Island tourist board also said they hope to have a "positive" summer season due to the vaccine roll out.

They told Sun Online Travel: "We are optimistic now that the vaccine is being rolled out both in the UK and in Spain so restrictions can soon be relaxed and travel can be reinstated.

"Given our proximity to the UK , the extensive network of UK flight connections to the islands and our long and positive shared tourism history, we feel very confident that we will have a positive 2021 summer season."

The country is still facing high numbers of Covid cases.

According to the Health Ministry, 41,576 new coronavirus infections were recorded on Wednesday – the highest number registered in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began.

Spain's tourism sector last year reported losses of €106bn due to Covid-19, with Barcelona, Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca hit the hardest.

The Spanish government initially extended the UK flight ban to next month and said in a statement that they had extended again due to "some uncertainties over the reach of the new strain".

It added: "The epidemiological situation in the United Kingdom has progressively worsened."

Brits also cannot go on holiday to Spain right now due to the UK lockdown, as well as need a negative Covid test on arrival and departure.

Spain has not closed their borders altogether with Spanish residents still able to return from the UK.

However, new travel restrictions require a negative coronavirus test on arrival to Spain, as well as one to enter the UK along with a mandatory quarantine.

Wednesday’s report of cases in Spain showed the pandemic was on an upward trajectory.

A total of 2,412,318 coronavirus cases have been officially diagnosed since the start of the pandemic, according to Spanish news outlet El Pais.

The occupancy rate in hospitals and intensive care units had worsened, the outlet reported, with Covid-19 patients now occupying nearly 20 per cent of hospital beds and more than 35 per cet of ICUs.

The figure was far higher than those recorded across hospitals and ICUs in the first wave.

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