Desperate Spain BEGS EU to let British holidaymakers stay indefinitely in huge Brexit blow for Brussels

The rule applies to all British and other non-EU visitors in Schengen area countries

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In a welcome move for British holidaymakers, Spain is set to ask Brussels to relax the 90-day rule for UK visitors in an effort to allow them to stay indefinitely.

The rule applies to all British and other non-EU visitors in Schengen area countries, and Spanish Tourism Secretary Fernando Valdés says the regulation would have to be applied across the European Union.

Since Brexit, Britons are able to stay in Spain and other EU countries for up to 90 days every 180 days, something that has hit digital nomads and visitors with holiday homes the hardest. Those who reside in Spain are exempt.

The rule has also affected Spain, due to the country relying on tourism for 12 percent of its GDP.

Spain is a popular holiday destination for Brits.
Spain is a popular holiday destination for Brits.

Mr Valdés told the I that it was "in the interest of Spain" to get rid of the 90-day rule, but "unfortunately, this is not something Spain has established by itself or can get rid of it. It is true that after Brexit some problems have emerged with people wanting to stay longer".

He added Madrid are pushing the EU to relax the rules that have been imposed following the UK's departure from the EU: "It is in our interest to lobby and convince [the EU] we can try to work an exception with them. But the solution must come from them.”

A bilateral deal between the UK and Spanish governments could also be reached on allowing tourism workers to stay in Spain throughout the holiday season, which could stretch beyond 90 days, something EU approval would not be required for.

He added that the country has invested €200 million (£175m) in "sun and sea" destinations to further boost the Spanish economy.

New Brexit regulations have put Spain at a disadvantage, according to the Spanish tourism minister.
New Brexit regulations have put Spain at a disadvantage, according to the Spanish tourism minister.

“What we want is to increase quality but what we really want is for any tourists to visit those destinations. We want families. We are seeing in Magaluf how all these investments are bringing more British families. In 10 years Magaluf has changed,” he said.

With the cost-of-living crisis gripping many Brits, Mr Valdés insisted he is hopeful that Spain does not move towards becoming a luxury destination for tourists, instead offering a "variety" of destinations.

“We have such a range of destinations. We want to increase the quality of the destination. The strategy is not to [take all] destination upmarket", he said.

Data has shown a rise in Swiss and German visitors to Spain staying for more than three weeks compared with 2019, according to Mr Valdés.

The number of Swiss tourists has risen by 20 percent, while the number of German holidaymakers has surged by 60 percent.