The British tourist will return to Spain, assures the ambassador of the United Kingdom

The British Ambassador to Madrid, Hugh Elliott, is convinced that the British tourist will return to Spain for their holidays, after a "rather short" period of "caution" and fear of the COVID pandemic- 19.

"One thing that will not change is that people will continue to have vacations, and the preferred place for British tourists is Spain," said the diplomat in a video conference with Efe from his place of confinement.

"They are 18 or 19 million a year normally, and I hope that we will return to those numbers as soon as possible, but it will not be in the coming months," he adds.

Elliott is also convinced that sooner rather than later the "very broad and deep" relationship between the United Kingdom and Spain will return to normal.

"We have such a strong bilateral relationship, not only for tourism, but for investments, trade, ..."

The United Kingdom, he recalls, "was the largest investor in Spain in the first half of last year, and Spain is a very important investor in the United Kingdom, not to mention cultural, educational exchanges ..."

"What neither of us know," he warns, "is how long (the crisis) is going to last, nor exactly the conditions in which we are going to be able to get out of this phase of the pandemic, in which the priority is to protect health, and then protect the economy. .

He argues that the mistrust of the traveler or tourist is not particularly directed against Spain for having been one of the destinations in the European environment most affected by the pandemic.

"We are seeing," says the ambassador, "that many countries are affected and it is understood that this is an unprecedented situation, so of course there is fear, it is normal, it is very human that there is concern."

"But Spain is a great country," he points out, "it has fantastic health services, its professionals are doing a job that gives incredible credit to the profession and to the country."

"So I have not the slightest doubt that with a little bit of time - not because of Spain, but because of the fear of traveling, of moving around-, (the situation will normalize). There may be a period of caution, it is normal , but I think it will be rather short. "

The diplomat maintains permanent contact with the community of British citizens in Spain, whose number is estimated at between 350,000 and half a million, between residents and long-term tourists.

"The first thing I want to say on your behalf is 'thank you', thank you for the care you receive being here in Spain, because the health services are doing an incredible job."

"Unfortunately we do have - with that number it is inevitable - affected, sick Britons; we have of course had deaths within our community as well."

"But within this tragedy," he emphasizes, "the efforts and work of the health services, and all the services around them, have been fantastic, and many of our citizens tell me, so the first thing is that they are very grateful .

"And I am also very grateful, as ambassador, for the collaboration we have had with the Spanish authorities in managing the return to the UK of all tourists."

He explains that, when the pandemic arose, there were around 200,000 British tourists in Spain who wanted to return to the United Kingdom and, despite the emergency, were able to do so.

"Of course, there are people who are in difficult situations, very uncomfortable, and within that there are some complaints, but within what fits the word is: gratitude."

The diplomat considers, on the other hand, that the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain are having very similar reactions to the pandemic.

"I am seeing similarities. We are in different phases, but what I see is that the reaction is very, very similar," both in terms of sanitary and economic measures.

He also mentions the "great contribution" that his country has decided to make not only to the global search for a remedy against the disease - "in the United Kingdom, tests are already beginning on people for a possible vaccine" - but to the relief of the crisis in the least developed countries.

"We are the second donor country to the World Health Organization and we have many international programs to support less fortunate societies, which has to be an important part of the international response.


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