Spain to ‘freely welcome’ British tourists again – as TUI announce restart date for holidays

Anyone returning to the UK would still need to quarantine for 14 days under the Government plans for nearly all new arrivals in an effort to prevent new coronavirus cases arriving from abroad.

Boris Johnson is under considerable pressure from within his own party to form so-called air bridges with nations that have Covid-19 under control to exempt them from the quarantine, which the travel industry wants scrapped.

And the Government is expected to outline the next phase of its plan for borders next week.

British tourists are now allowed to enter Spain on holiday

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Spain will allow the entry of visitors from the European Union from Sunday when it ends its state of emergency, and foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said this would apply to British citizens too.

“We will allow British visitors to enter Spain just like the rest of the European Union as from June 21 freely and without the need for a quarantine,” she told BBC News.

“We’re discussing with the UK authorities to see if they would do the same on their side, we nevertheless are doing this out of respect for the 400,000 British citizens that have a second residence in Spain and are dying to benefit from their homes in our country.

“We do hope they (the UK Government) will be sensitive to the 250,000 Spaniards that are also living in the UK and would like to enter the UK without a quarantine.”

Wary of re-importing the disease to the nation also ravaged by Covid-19, Ms Gonzalez Laya said visitors would face a “triple check” on their origin, temperature and contact point to stem the spread.

Portugal’s ambassador to the UK has also said the nation wants to welcome British tourists again now the coronavirus alert level has been reduced.

Manuel Lobo Antunes told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There was very good news for you, for us, for Europe that the alert system has come from four to three and that means a significant improvement in the control of the pandemic here in the UK.

“We think that the situation is under control and we would be happy to receive, as before, as many British as possible.”

But the Foreign Office is still advising British nationals against all but essential international travel.

And all passengers bar a handful of exemptions must still go into self-isolation for 14 days after arriving in the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel promised the quarantine would be reviewed after three weeks when she imposed it on June 8, giving her until June 29.

It comes as TUI announced it would be resuming its holiday programme within three weeks, expressing “absolute confidence” that the Government will have relaxed travel restrictions by then.

The UK’s biggest tour operator announced it will serve eight destinations across Spain and Greece from July 11.

Holidays will be available to the Greek islands of Crete, Rhodes, Kos and Corfu, as well as Tenerife and Lanzarote, two of Spain’s Canary Islands, and Majorca and Ibiza in the Balearics.

Richard Sofer, Tui’s commercial director, acknowledged the plan is dependent on the Government altering its position on travel advice and the two-week quarantine for international arrivals.

Mr Sofer said: “Due to the size of our organisation we’ve been able to have a presence in each of those Government conversations through our aviation team or through the senior members of the UK business. We’re well-informed of where those discussions are.

“Obviously many of those conversations are confidential but that gives us great confidence to open up a small programme to a couple of really key countries, eight key gateways for us.

“We have absolute confidence that we’re going to be getting a positive result from the Government in time for July.”

Tui has not set a date for resuming long-haul trips.

Leeds-based travel firm Jet2holidays plans to resume its holiday programme on July 15, but it has been forced to extend the suspension of its operations several times during the pandemic.

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