Spain to remove entry restrictions on travelers from China, 9 other nations
This undated photo shows the street view of Madrid, Spain. /CFP

This undated photo shows the street view of Madrid, Spain. /CFP

Spain has announced it would allow entry to holidaymakers from China and nine other non-European Union member states from May 24 without the need for quarantine.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced the list of the countries on Friday at an international tourism fair in Madrid. The nine are South Korea, the UK, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Rwanda.

Spain will also allow all vaccinated international travelers to visit the country if the vaccine is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

"From June 7, all vaccinated people and their families will be welcome in our country, Spain, regardless of their country of origin," Sanchez said. 

Spain's announcement came a day after European Union member states reached a deal paving the way for a COVID-19 certificate to open up travel throughout Europe.

The deal will allow anybody living in the EU's 27 member countries to secure a digital health pass by the end of June that displays their vaccination status, results of COVID-19 tests or recovery from a coronavirus infection. 

The world's second most popular tourist destination after France, Spain registered 83.5 million foreign visitors in 2019, official figures show.

In 2020, the number of foreign travelers to Spain collapsed by 77 percent from a year earlier, falling below 19 million visitors as pandemic restrictions put the brakes on leisure travel.

The country expects to welcome around 45 million foreign tourists in 2021, just over half the number who came in 2019 before the pandemic struck, the tourism minister said this month. 

Sanchez was speaking at the FITUR International Tourism Fair, which saw some 50,000 people gather this week for the first in-person meeting of its kind since the pandemic hit. 

The fair was taking place as many countries in Europe and beyond emerge from lockdowns and as people across the globe are gearing up to travel again.

Tourism was one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, tourist arrivals are estimated to have fallen 74 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

(With input from AFP)

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