November 6, 2018 / 4:54 PM / in 14 days

Spain seeks contingency plans with tour operators in case of no-deal Brexit

FILE PHOTO: Spain's Industry Minister Reyes Maroto arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, October 5, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

LONDON (Reuters) - Spain’s tourism minister, who is meeting with British tour operators in London this week, said she is working on contingency plans to ensure that 18 million British visitors a year can still reach Spain in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit.

Reyes Maroto, the Spanish minister for trade, industry and tourism, has met this week with the heads of some of Britain’s biggest tour operators, including Thomas Cook (TCG.L) to discuss plans in case Britain leaves the EU with no agreement in place.

“We are outlining a list of measures, the most important of which are to have laws and regulations in place that will allow us to respond quickly to any problems that can come up with the movement of goods and people at the border,” Maroto told Reuters in an interview.

“We’re working with the airlines on contingency plans on the kind of decisions that we’ll need to take in case there is no deal, so we can keep people moving between our two countries as we always have done in the past.”

International tourism accounts for around 11 percent of Spain’s 1 trillion euro economy, and the sector is the country’s biggest employer. British tourists are the biggest group, accounting for nearly a quarter of all visitors.

“For our government, Brexit is a top priority and the commitment we have to Spanish companies and Spanish nationals in the UK, as well as with Britons in Spain, is to ensure that we will have a solution for any problems that might crop (up),” Maroto said.

“British tourists need to know that Spain next year will still be an attractive destination ... we want to be optimistic, but we are at a point at which we all have to keep up the pressure on the negotiators to resolve the few issues that are still pending,” she said.

Reporting by Amanda Cooper; Editing by Peter Graff

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