Spanish tourism official says no-deal Brexit would be a ‘disaster’ for the industry

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BREXIT WORRIES: Pinanes (inset) warned of a no-deal ‘disaster’ for tourism CREDIT: Shutterstock (main), Government of Navarre (inset)

A SENIOR Spanish tourist official has said it would be a disaster for Spain if Britain left the European Union (EU) without a deal next year.

Javier Pinanes, the head of Spain’s London tourism office, said there would be “really big” problems if a no-deal Brexit went ahead including for those travelling between the two countries.

British people would probably opt not to travel to Spain or other countries in the EU if a no-deal meant the introduction of visas, flight changes and health insurance problems.

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“For Spain it’s decisive. Britain is our main market. A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” he said.

He added while speaking to members of the British travel industry association Abta in Sevilla that hotels particularly on Spain’s coast and its islands were heavily linked to their customers.

“I’m convinced there will be an agreement because it is in the common interest of Britain and the EU.

“We received 19 million British people in 2017,” he said.

British ambassador to Spain Simon Manley, also at the convention, said Westminster was working “day in, day out,” to secure a deal.

“Spain has got a lot of skin in this game,” he said.

Manley added the British government is advising travel companies and holidaymakers on the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“But the British government is also having to prepare for the worst,” he said.

Several arrangements EU schemes such as European Health Insurance and visa-free travel could be disputed or stop all together if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal.

The British government stated last month some flights may also be disrupted because airlines would have to get individual permits to fly between Britain and EU states.

Mark Tanzer said politicians had “argued and dithered” over the withdrawal negotiations.

“The future is unlikely to be a paradise but there’s no reason to believe it will be hell either,” Manley said.

The warning comes as the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said negotiators were working “day and night” to secure a Brexit deal.

His comments come as an agreement over the status of Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic continues to stall efforts to reach a final agreement. Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29 2019.

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