a colorful tiled bench in a city

When the world gets moving again, quite a few map circles will land on Spain. You know, the country with the picture perfect islands, lovable cities, food worth flying in for and buzzy culture that can’t be imitated.

This is the land of late breakfast, even later supper and fun at every turn, and tourism authorities are already plotting how to safely bring visitors back, and when. Here’s what authorities are saying…

Spain’s 2021 Travel & Tourism Plans

Spain is a world leader in tourism. In fact, the country overtook the United States in the last few years as the second most visited country in the world, behind France.

The coming and going of people is huge business for the country, with literal billions on the line for the tourism industry each and every year, amid up to 82 million annual passenger arrivals. To ensure the safety of all visitors, Spain is taking the downtime of bustling travel to figure out how and when to reopen with sustainable measures.

According to Spanish Tourism authorities, Spain will begin reopening for wider tourism in April.

a colorful tiled bench in a city

Juan Molas, the Director of Spanish Tourism believes the country will be ready to safely welcome back visitors from the beginning of April, based not only on the emergence of vaccines, but also improvements in technology and digitization.

Rapid tests are getting faster, more accurate and more affordable, and speed will also act to shore up long delays and logistical concerns which have kept people away. Spain has, and continues to invest significantly in acquiring testing technology resources at scale.

As Europe’s tourism leaders meet this week for an emergency session of the United Nation’s World Tourism Organization Summit, data sharing – such as access to testing or vaccination records – and rapid antigen testing is the focus. Juan Molas offered

“We must think about delivery day. This will be at the beginning of April. There will be a recovery, yes, or yes, I have absolute confidence in it. First of all, we have to believe it ourselves, either because there will be a vaccine or because the tests at origin and destination will work,”

Juan Molas, Spanish Tourism

Covid-19 vaccine distribution in each country is out of the hands of tourism officials, but will undoubtedly play the most critical role in shoring up future travel concerns. For now, tourism boards are most focused on rapid testing and data harnessing, so that passengers are presented with easy and seamless ways to safely move, without the strain of added requirements.

Authorities want to see test results or vaccination records, and a variety of solutions from one common app for all travelers, to physical health passports have been on the table. Tech based solutions tend to be the focus, in line with the digitization trend.


If Molas words are to be taken as literal, it sounds like Spain plans to test all arrivals before departure, and after arrival in the country. It’s unclear if any exceptions would be made for those already vaccinated, and which format will be chosen as the official record keeper.

Long story short: expect more rapid testing, some new apps and improved health protocols in Europe this summer, as travel gets moving again. And yes, it seems like most of Europe is planning for a full on summer of tourism.

Who Can Visit Spain When It Opens Up Tourism?

It’s completely unclear at this point who exactly will be welcomed to Spain, or the rest of Europe as tourism reboots, other than those already within Europe. Whether April holds also remains to be seen, but as of now, all indications are go. Even June would be very welcomed news.

Fairly, Government officials have been known to change course rather quickly in recent months, given rapid developments with vaccine rollout and new strains.

The European Union has kept the United States and other large traveling countries off approved visitor lists in response to the ongoing health crisis, but if vaccinations make a significant impact on worst case outcomes in the coming months, it could all change rather quickly.

With billions on the table, Spain and others will want to ensure as long of a season as possible, with as many high value visitors as possible, and that’s only possible if things remain safe for all.

If you’re missing Spain, it sounds like you’ll definitely get a chance to see it again this year. And depending on your passport, perhaps as early as April. Figuring out where to go? Here’s a guide to Barcelona versus Madrid. But really, you can’t go wrong.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I just wann to ask from experts that when possible to normal situations come in Canaria island as tourists point of view..???

    1. If i have the first dose of Vacine but my holiday is before the second, i would think i would need a negative Covid test before flying. My question is would i record a positive Covid test from my first dose of Vacine?

      1. No you wont. I have had my first vaccine and have since had 2 covid tests for work and both were negative. Hope that helps.

  2. Many, certainly English pensioners, come to Spain for 6 months in the winter and bring alot of euros to the winter economy, I am sure a lot do not want to, and should not be obliged to, obtain a residentia as there main homes are in England. The 90 days in 180 days is very confusing and does not permit many to come for the usual 6 or 7 months of winter. If it were easier to either obtain a 6 month visa or not have to adhere to this rule at all, I am sure many more would come, or still come to spend their hard earned pension abroad and take advantage of the good weather. Your thoughts please, are there any plans for this? Plus a small payment for the visa would I am sure would be willingly paid and would help the economy.

    1. Which bit of a maximum 90 days in any 180 day period is it you don’t understand?

      This is a consequence of BREXIT but I agree that a low cost simplified 6 month Visa Application would be helpful ahead of winter 2021/22.

      There is no chance of winter holidays in Spain or most anywhere else in the world this year due to coronavirus.

  3. Once a person is vaccinated and has the correct legal documentation they should be welcomed with open arms by Spain. Britain and Spain should be talking NOW about the correct documentation that is required.

  4. Id just like to ask about having a holiday home in spain. We pay all the taxes and everything but getting nothing for it, so when is it likely we can get back there and is it going to be no jab no go.

  5. Pedro Samchez tonight said Spain would not welcome tourists until the end of the summer ….. how can this conflict so much ?

    1. Not entirely correct. He said they would be open by the end of summer, and didn’t dismiss the possibility of before. Government officials and tourism officials have different goals, different mandates and different games. As noted in this article, aiming for April may be lofty, but not impossible at least for European travel. Many people can still visit today. If not, the country will be hellbent on opening for summer. Only time will tell.

  6. We spend 6-7 months in Spain every year as pensioners in a Motorhome we want to keep doing so, but now we will have to go to Morocco for 3 months when we want to be in Spain, British rule 180 days so why not Spain

    1. 70% is a world is good again figure, but lesser numbers will still make a significant impact. The virus seems to have a seasonal element, and with even 30% vaccination, this season would be an improvement on safety from last summer, which also saw widespread arrivals.

    2. Their vaccination progress is appalling, if they don’t get cracking soon they can forget opening up. They’ll also need to go back in lockdown soon the rate their cases are going up.

  7. As pensioners we go to Spain for the winter six months or would do if we were allowed to
    We have heard that Portugal is allowing British tourists to stay for six months is this a country decisions or are the EU just turning a blind eye. Why can Spain just not form a visa for six months for a nominal fee?. The Uk gives EU tourists six months to stay as long as the are not working.

  8. As pensioner’s we have come to Spain for six months in the winter for 20 years. So this will be our last. As in any three months we would still have to travel back in bad weather.

  9. Isn’t it? that each country in the EU has the option to not enforce the 180days rule?
    If so, then Spain can simply not enforce/adhere to it,?

  10. What systems will be in place in hotels and bars..as children can transmit the vaccine and be asymptomatic, how will this be treated? Will bars be open? Restaurants? Opening is not the same as before. If an outbreak happens at an hotel, what will happen? Perhaps we should be happy to enjoy UK?

  11. Instead of pensioners complaining you can’t lounge around in your campervan or holiday home for 6-months, after ruining the life and opportunities of future generations (who partake in programmes like Erasmus) or people like myself, who have lived in and out of Spain for 30 years in a professional capacity and speak fluent Spanish (and actually integrate into the society) , maybe you should have lobbied your MP or government 4 years ago about this, instead of leaving us all in this big hellish mess. Here’s an idea learn Spanish, study for a Master’s or PhD and then you’ll be able to get yourself and a 6-months plus visa. Sorry I sound so cross, no actually I am furious. If you want to do something useful, vote differently next time and be a bit more politically and policy aware.

    1. Thanks Shayla, exactly my thoughts. I simply cannot stand listening to the moaning of British pensioners, over half of them voting for this mess in the first place. Brexit has created a hell of life for so many innocent people and yet those that voted for it, mostly due to racism and xenophobia, have the gall to complain that they can no longer spend their triple-locked pensions in the sun for more than 90 days in 6 months?
      They can f… off right now, and then f… off some more. Absolutely no sympathy. For 4 years they claimed “yes, we knew what we were voting for” – well, shut up then and accept the consequences of own actions.

    2. My thoughts exactly. I’ve just been offered a position with an Icelandic company, so I’m having to apply for a Schengen visa for there – I think everything is workable if you really do your homework and put the effort in (and, of course, it’s all far more paperwork, planning and money), but I really have to question whether the majority of British people really understood what they were voting for. 90 in 180 is the standard Schengen visa exemption duration for everyone who does require a tourist visa.
      I’m 21, and I’m lucky in that I have plans for the things I want to do in Europe, and I think I know roughly how I will go about making them happen. Many people my age aren’t in that position – it makes me so angry that they will be denied the chances that people literally three years older than them were given when they graduated from university. And I completely agree that if there is one thing worth getting especially angry about it’s that British students can no longer take advantage of Erasmus+, and are expected to pay far more in tuition than their European counterparts.

  12. Oh my oh my, there seems to be some very annoyed EU’s out there. Lets see how long Spains economy will last without the pensioners who have propped up your empty resorts for years & kept thousands of your youth in employment… you make my blood boil. Us UK’s didn’t ALL vote out! Especially the pensioners. It just doesn’t make any sense what your babbling on about! With your degrees & masters.. blar blar. As noted UK agree to 6 months so why not Spain? Just being awkward I’d say. Your country is beautiful and we love it! Why be so cross with us because we want to visit for 6 months? Be cross with Boris, not the people who put money into your country. If we keep getting this kind of abuse we will be off to Portugal next 😉

  13. My wife and I are also pensioners, and we own a house in Andalucia, where we live alongside our many Spanish, freinds, along with many others from around europe and beyond, we however spend the spring and summer at our villa, in Spain, then home to the Uk, to change into our winter clothes, and off we go to E/C Everglade Cty, Florida , for the winter with our up State, American snowbird feinds, we spend the winter months fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, with evening cocktails at 5 till late, them home to the UK, and so on , instead of the hatred shown to your fellow men, and woman, in this blog, and getting angry, which by the way is nor very endearing , make peace with yourselves and others, the world is a wanderful place, with wonderful people, not all of who have degrees, or a point to prove, try harder to fit in thats the way , what do you say . Melanie, we seem to be on the same wave length.

  14. Just a little foot note, I was born in a small mining village in Lancashire UK, village school, then down the mine at 15 years old, I ran 4 miles every morning at 4 am to be at the mine for 5 am, pregnant at 16 years, then 16 hours a day, the local builder used up my other 8 hours of daylight, we earned every penny, and owned several holiday parks around the world, degrees, funky jobs, come on people, really. well said Melanie, bla-bla-bla. or tripe.

  15. Come on you people, with the a grudging attitude, at least stand and deliver your opinions, I have spent a great deal of of my life educating young people, on how to make life a success , and I know that the one who makes the grade, first of all looses the attitude, maybe you can. lets try.

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