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With Suitcase And Bikini Emojis, Spain Seeks Return Of Tourists

Spain revised down its coronavirus death toll on Monday and urged foreign holidaymakers to return from July as it eases one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, though tourism businesses were skeptical about salvaging the summer season.

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The world’s second-most visited nation closed its doors and beaches in March to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, later imposing a two-week quarantine on overseas visitors. But that requirement will be lifted from July 1, a government statement said.

“The worst is behind us,” Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya tweeted with emojis of a bikini, sunglasses and a suitcase.

“In July we will gradually open Spain to international tourists, lift the quarantine, ensure the highest standards of health safety. We look forward 2 welcoming you!”

Introduced on May 15 with little warning, the quarantine caused confusion in the tourism industry and tension with neighboring France. By lifting it, the government hopes to make up for the earlier communication breakdown and be in a stronger position to attract foreign tourists this summer.

Spain normally draws 80 million people a year, with tourism accounting for over 12 percent of gross domestic product and an even bigger share of jobs, so the summer season is crucial to possibilities of mitigating a looming recession.

The health ministry also revised the death toll lower by nearly 2,000 to 26,834 after checking data provided by regions, and said just 50 people had died of the virus over the past week, a marked fall from previous weeks. The total number of cases has also been revised down to 235,400.

Bars and restaurants in Madrid and Barcelona were allowed to open outside spaces at half capacity from Monday, but many stayed closed as owners weighed the value of catering to just a few.

Some of those who did open were pessimistic.

“It’s complicated, we are not going to be able to save the tourist season, unless [enough] foreigners come,” said Alfonso Gomez, a restaurant owner in Barcelona.


Post time: Aug-13-2020