Spanish Tourism Minister Says Covid Vaccine Certificates Will Help Restart "Safe" Summer Travel
Ministers are reportedly set to launch the scheme ahead of the 17 May lockdown easing milestone (PA)
Spain's tourism minister has welcomed plans to use Covid certificates to help restart summer tourism, saying they will help "ease" the process of restarting travel.
Fernando Valdés has backed proposals for a Covid vaccination passport scheme as he claimed it would "ease travel and help tourism" ahead of the summer holiday season.
His comments come after it was reported the Department of Transport is planning to launch the new certification scheme, which will allow British travellers to prove their vaccinate status, in place by 17 May.
According to The Telegraph, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged officials to have the scheme in place ahead of the easing of travel restrictions in mid-May, in an effort to allow the safe resumption of foreign holidays.
The plans were revealed following a call between the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group, with one government official reportedly telling the industry leaders: "We aim to give people the ability to prove their vaccine status by the time international travel restarts where other countries require it.
"The earliest that will restart is May 17."
Asked about the plans on Thursday, Valdés said vaccinations offered a "new means" of helping travellers.
"I believe that certificates is going to help us, surely. Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been trying to put in place different means to help safe tourism", he told Sky News.
"It is true we have passed through some waves of this pandemic, this virus, but now I think we are ready because we do have vaccinations."
He added: "Vaccinations have changed a huge deal from what we had last summer. I believe once we reach a mutual agreement, and I have to say we have been having constant conversations with UK authorities, these certificates are going to ease travel and help tourism from this summer on."
"Vaccination, as it advances is going to give us new means of helping travellers. It is true that safe tourism is key in this matter. We want tourists to reach Spain with all the guarantees, with all the means of safety."
Ministers have been examining ways to provide travellers with a UK government verified certificate to meet the demands of some countries who have offered reduced quarantine and testing restrictions for those who have received their jabs.
Under the current traffic light system unveiled by the government last month, people hoping to travel to the safest "green list" countries would still be required to pay for several Covid tests, even if they had already received both doses of a Covid vaccine.
On Tuesday, cabinet office minister Michael Gove and England's deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam travelled to Israel to examine the country's new vaccine passport scheme.
A Downing Street spokesperson said the pair were "seeing first-hand the work on certification that Israel has up and running over there are we continue the work that we are doing on certification as an option here".
But the plans have been criticised by the Transport Select Committee who claimed a recent report from the government's Global Travel Taskforce had given "insufficient" detail to industry groups ahead of the planned restart of international travel next month.
Tory MP Huw Merriman, who chairs the group, said: "The aviation and travel sectors were crying out for a functional report, setting out clear rules and offering certainty. This is not it.
"For UK citizens seeking to travel to the parts of the globe where the vaccine has been delivered as rapidly as the UK, the cost to families from testing could be greater than the cost of the flights."