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Spain maintains tourism target despite British travel restrictions

Spain expects to meet its target of welcoming around 45 million foreign tourists this year despite virus travel restrictions faced by Britons, its main market, the government said Monday.

“We can still recover half of our international tourism this year, its a prudent goal,” Tourism Minister Maria Reyes Maroto said in an interview published in top-selling daily newspaper El Pais.

“We expect around 17 million international tourists during the summer and many will be British because it is a market that is very faithful to Spain,” she added.

The minister announced in mid-May that Spain, the world’s second most popular destination after France before the pandemic, expected to draw 45 million foreign visitors this year, more than half the 83.5 million it received in 2019.

Between January and May, Spain welcomed 3.2 million foreign visitors, including about 130,000 Britons, according to the latest official figures.

Britain allowed international travel to resume in May after months of banning most trips abroad, but Spain is not included in its so-called “green list” of safe destinations.

That means Britons returning from trips to mainland Spain must self-isolate on arrival for 10 days and take two Covid-19 tests.

Only Britons heading to Spain’s Balearic archipelago, which includes Ibiza and Mallorca, are exempt due to the lower numbers of Covid-19 infections there.

In 2019, 18 million Britons visited Spain, including 3.7 million who headed to the Balearics.

In May, Spain exempted British tourists from having to present the results of covid tests as it tried to boost tourism, a mainstay of the Spanish economy.

But the following month it reversed the policy and now demands a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination.