Spain has been a favorite destination for Britons and travelers from all over the world for some time now thanks to its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and many cities of art and culture. If you haven’t gone yourself, you probably know someone who’s visited the Iberian peninsula before.
Thanks to geographical proximity, favorable airfares and the possibility to visit the country without a Spanish visa, UK citizens traditionally make up a great (if not the biggest) portion of the sunny nation’s tourism revenue. In 2018, Spain placed second in the list of most visited countries in the world with 82.8 million tourists visiting its territory. As many as 18.5 million of those came from Britain.
But things risk changing for the worse due to Brexit. There are several ways in which Brexit may affect Spanish tourism, especially in case of a complete severance from the EU. This article will give you an idea of what may happen to your Spanish holidays in terms of prices and visas once Brexit is implemented.
Factors Affecting the Spanish Holiday Market: Currency Exchange
A strong currency is certainly an advantage budget-wise for holidaymakers.
The moment Brits voted out of the EU in June 2016, sterling started falling and never really returned to its pre-Brexit value. Sterling has dropped by 15% against euro — at the time of writing, £1 is worth €1.12 while it was €1.12 back in 2016.
In the case that the UK and EU cannot strike a long term deal, the sterling may fall even further, persuading Brits to save on exchange rates and go to countries with weaker currencies for their holidays.
The good news is, airfares are getting cheaper as a result of a combination of factors, Brexit included. Major Europeans airlines like EasyJet and Ryanair are lowering their fares because of the prolonged Brexit uncertainty, an excess in seating capacity, and a weaker sterling.
Will Brits Spend their Holidays in Spain After Brexit?
Britain officially left the EU in February 2020. However, the EU and UK are yet to strike a final deal on their trading and legal arrangements going forward. At present, a transition period exists between the two entities, which expires in 2021.
The ongoing Brexit negotiations have been a cause of worry for EU and UK citizens alike, who’ve been wondering exactly to what extent freedom of movement will be affected in the European area. Will UK nationals be able to travel to the EU visa-free as they are now, and what about permanent residency?
Will There be a Spain Visa for UK Citizens?
Fortunately, short-term stays such as holidays have already been discussed and at the beginning of April 2019, the European Parliament announced that UK citizens won’t need a visa in order to visit the EU.
Since they’ll be holding a visa-exempt passport, British travelers will most likely need to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver before entering the Schengen area. An ETIAS visa waiver is a travel authorization that differs from traditional visas. It will come into full effect at the end of 2022 and will allow citizens of over 60 countries to visit territories within the Schengen area for up to 90 days.
All they’ll have to do in order to apply for an ETIAS visa waiver is fill out an application form online before entering Europe. The ETIAS online process is designed to be quick and straightforward and the program is intended to simplify border checks and have better control over travel into and within the Schengen area.
The visa-free status of UK nationals for short stays isn’t likely to be affected by a no-deal Brexit. However, the European condition of reciprocity must apply. This means that Brits will travel to Spain and other Schengen countries visa-free only if the same rights are granted to EU citizens visiting the UK. This is the standard procedure regarding visa exemption under EU regulations.
In short, Brexit (and especially a no-deal Brexit) may negatively affect tourism in Spain. However, measures are already being taken to encourage and facilitate short-term travel between the UK and the EU.