By Neil Lancefield, Press Association Travel Correspondent in Seville
A no-deal Brexit would be “a disaster” for Spain, the country’s UK tourism chief has warned.
Javier Pinanes, director of Spain’s tourist office in London, acknowledged that travel disruption caused by the UK and the European Union failing to negotiate an agreement would be “a really big problem”.
In an interview with the Press Association, he said: “It would have a very big impact. If there are no flights, if we have visas, if we have problems with health insurance … people will probably not travel to Spain or other countries in the European Union.
“For Spain it’s decisive. The UK is our main market. We received 19 million British people (in 2017).
“We have lots of connectivity between the most important cities in the UK and the most important cities and destinations in Spain.
“It would be a disaster.”
Speaking at the annual convention of UK travel trade association Abta in Seville, Spain, Mr Pinanes went on: “A great part of the hotels, especially on the islands and the coast, they are very associated with the British industry.
“For us, it would be a really big problem.”
He added that he is “convinced that there will be an agreement” due to the “common interests” of the UK and EU.
The British ambassador in Madrid, Simon Manley, told the convention that “Spain has got a lot of skin in this game” as he said the UK Government is working “day in, day out” to secure a Brexit deal.
But he acknowledged that the UK is “having to prepare for the worst” such as giving advice to travel firms and holidaymakers about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
The Government published documents last month stating that, in the event of no deal being reached, there “could be disruption to some flights” as airlines will have to obtain individual permissions to operate between the UK and the EU.
Holidaymakers have also been warned about changes to the acceptance of passports and the European Health Insurance Card.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said politicians have “argued and dithered” other Brexit.
He told the audience: “The future is unlikely to be paradise but there’s no reason to believe it will be hell either.”