The Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation, Arancha González Laya, has reiterated to Spanish tourists who are abroad and want to return to Spain that they contact their travel agencies, airlines and transport providers to expedite your return as soon as possible. It has also summoned them to communicate with the Spanish Embassies and Consulates closest to their location and whose telephones remain operational 24 hours a day.
Aware of the difficulties they may face due to the increase in flight cancellations and border closings, the minister has appealed to the "patience, collaboration and responsibility" of tourists and insisted that "there will be no Spanish who stay behind. " As indicated, "the Government of Spain will accompany each and every one of the Spanish citizens abroad. I ask for calm and responsibility. Thousands of people are contacting us. We will give you all an answer."
These messages delve into the same line since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation sent almost two million messages on March 12 to the mobile phones of Spaniards who are outside of Spain requesting them to reschedule their trip and return after international restrictions imposed because of Covid-19. Taking advantage of the notification capacity allowed by the popular "Spain with you" system, whereby citizens who have a mobile device with a Spanish number receive an SMS with the contact of the Embassy and / or Consulate of the country they arrive at, Foreign Affairs sent a total of 1.8 million messages to those mobiles asking them to reschedule their trip and, to the best of their ability, return to Spain.
Regarding Spanish residents abroad, González Laya has sent them a message of calm and recommended that they avoid displacement, follow the instructions of the local health authorities and, of course, contact their Embassy or Consulate if necessary.
Spain has 2.7 million Spanish residents abroad, according to the National Statistics Institute, to which must be added 65,340 non-residents, as well as all those thousands of tourists who are abroad without registering.
Operating the more than 200 Spanish Embassies and Consulates worldwide
The minister explained, in a press conference from the Palacio de la Moncloa, that the Spanish foreign service network is committed to supporting all citizens who need it to ensure they find a way to return to Spain, paying special attention to the most vulnerable. For this, the more than 200 Spanish Embassies and Consulates in the world maintain close contact with the Spanish community, informing them of all the possibilities they have to return to Spain while working with the local authorities of each country to ensure that they facilitate the departure of the Spanish.
Currently, more than 4,500 people including officials and local staff work in the representations of Spain in the world. Among its objectives is the consular assistance of Spaniards abroad through the 192 consulates that Spain has in the world. Spain is also trying to activate the Civil Protection Mechanism of the European Union to improve coordination with the rest of the EU Member States and thus facilitate organized assistance to all EU citizens.
To reinforce and support the work of personnel abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has also added 40 more officials to the consular attention shifts from the Consular Emergency Division in Madrid, which number about fifty of people who will temporarily form part of this key Department of the Ministry at the moment (whose phone +34 91 394 89 00 is operational 24/7). All of them will also be supported by up to a hundred volunteer officials who have decided to offer their solidarity to join efforts at these critical moments.
Foreign tourists in Spain
As for foreign tourists who are in Spain, the head of Spanish diplomacy has asked for their cooperation to respect the restrictions on the movements of people listed in the Royal Decree of alarm status at the same time that the necessary steps are taken to guarantee the orderly return to their countries.