Spain concerned over impact of Brexit on expats and tourists

Published:  28 Jun at 6 PM
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UK expats living and working in Spain aren’t the only ones living in fear of Brexit effects.

According to a leaked report, the Spanish government is almost as worried about the negative effects of Brexit as are the huge numbers of expats and tourists whose cash contributes to the country’s gross domestic product. The report was commissioned by Spain’s Brexit commission and published Friday in the El Pais daily newspaper.

Emphasising Spain’s wish for a soft Brexit, the report identified eight reasons for concern over Brexit’s effect on the country’s economic progress, with the joint issues of UK citizens in Spain and Spanish citizens in the UK high on the agenda. Also in the frame was Spain’s booming tourism industry, aimed mainly at British holidaymakers and threatened by the post-Brexit need for visitor visas as well as a shrinking number of cheap flights from the UK.

Some 102,498 Spanish nationals are at present living in the UK, with 391.000 Brits registered as residents in Spain. However, it’s common knowledge that the true figures are much higher due to the numbers who haven’t officially registered with the authorities. According to the report, free movement of both expats and tourists is the key issues for Spain as regards the financial effects of a hard Brexit.

According to an unnamed source, Spain’s main focus is on getting certainty for all citizens likely to be affected and to assist the EU commission in finding a damage limitation-based solution. Tourism, a major driving force in Spain’s economic growth, is already being affected by the fall in the value of sterling, with British visitors totalling around 20 per cent of the foreign holiday makers arriving each year.

In 2016, 17 million Brits chose Spain for their annual holiday in the sun, with a further fall in the value of the pound expected to discourage repeat visits. Another issue dear to the hearts of expats and Spaniards alike is the possible fate of Spanish footballers contracted to British clubs. According to the report, their careers may well be at risk post-Brexit.
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