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Spain calls on UK trade to help rebuild tourism

Spain has called on the UK travel trade to help rebuild tourism from the UK while pledging significant sums in a sustainable recovery to make it a “better place” to visit than pre-Covid.

Speaking at the end of the first day of World Travel Market, Miguel Sanz, director-general of the Spanish Tourist Office, outlined a four-year strategy aimed at reviving tourism to the destination.

He said: “In the first phase, we want a speedy recovery [in tourism] but we will need help from our partners in the British tourist industry.

“Britain is our single most important country. We need each other. We hope to work closely with you.”

As part of the recovery, he added: “We have signed different marketing agreements in the last few months with different companies in the sector to increase connectivity to our islands and mainland Spain.”

In the second phase of the sector’s recovery, Sanz said the country was investing €3.4 billion over the next three to six years to make Spain a more sustainable destination.

He said: “We don’t want to go back to 2019, we want to go to a better place. We are inventing that better place and committing billions of euros to create a more sustainable destination.”

Investment will not just be in environmental sustainability, but also in socio and economic sustainability, with the aim of keeping tourism as “a force for good” while making money for businesses in the sector, he said.

“We are committing to socio-sustainability, a strategy that looks after the environment but also the communities and the economy. You can count on us,” he added.

José Pascual Marco Martínez, Spanish ambassador to the UK, said the country as a whole was planning to spend €75 billion on a “green and digital revolution” which would “flow into the tourism sector”.

“We will build back a sector that is more sustainable. We want to position ourselves at the vanguard of sustainability,” he said.

José María Fernández López de Turiso, deputy head of mission at the Spanish Embassy in London, stressed Spain was also committed to working with the UK government to revive tourism and remove any “obstacles” in the way of the sector’s recovery.

He said: “The evil combination of Brexit and Covid has devastated the mobility between the two countries but this is something we want to regain. We want to work with the British government.”

There was “progress” but the number of Britons visiting was still “far from” the 20 million that arrived in Spain each year prior to the pandemic.

“There is a steady recovery,” he said, adding: “Spain is a safe country in terms of Covid and in terms of personal safety.”

Sanz added that the country has now vaccinated around 98% of its population over the age of 12, which is ensuring it has low infection rates.

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