The British ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott.

19-09-2018Reuters

British ambassador to Spain, Hugh Elliott, says that British tourists will return to Spain after a "rather short" period of caution and fear because of the pandemic. Speaking on Thursday, he said that "one thing which will not change is that people will continue to take holidays, and the preferred place for British tourists is Spain".

"There are normally 18 to 19 million a year, and I hope that we will return to these numbers as soon as possible. But it will not be in the coming months."

The ambassador referred to the "very broad and deep relationship" between Britain and Spain, one that will return to normal. "We have a strong bilateral relationship. This is not just for tourism but also investment and trade. The UK was the largest investor in Spain in the first half of last year, and Spain is a very important investor in the UK.

"What we don't know is how long the crisis is going to last or precisely the conditions by which we are going to be able to exit this phase of the pandemic, for which the priority is health and then the protection of the economy."

Tourist and traveller mistrust, he observed, is not particularly with Spain for having been one of the countries most affected by the pandemic. "Many countries are affected. There is an understanding that this is an unprecedented situation, so of course there is fear. This is normal; it is only human that there should be concern.

"But Spain is a great country. It has fantastic health services. Its professionals are doing a job that is an incredible credit to the country. I haven't the slightest doubt that the situation will normalise. There may be a period of caution, as this is normal, but I believe that it will be rather short."

Speaking on behalf of British residents in Spain, the ambassador wished to say "thank you" for the care that they are receiving in Spain. "The health services are doing an incredible job. Unfortunately, we do have - and this is inevitable - Britons who are sick. There have been some deaths among the community, but the efforts of the health services and of all the services around them have been fantastic. The first thing that British citizens say is that they are very grateful."

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