FIGURES have revealed that a whopping 1.5 million foreign nationals have left Spain since the coronavirus lockdown began.
Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya faced congress yesterday to discuss the government’s efforts to assist registered Spanish and foreign nationals return to their home countries.
The government’s primary focus was to repatriate Spanish nationals who were abroad on work or study visas to allow then to return to Spain, but it has also enabled one and a half million expats return to their homes.
The majority of the people leaving Spain were tourists and people living here temporarily in either holiday homes or visiting family and friends.
A large percentage were also students studying in Spain on projects such as Erasmus, who were given special dispensation to return to their families.
Spain has the second highest number of foreign tourists in the world, with over 83 million per year, including 10.6 million to Andalucia alone.
These figures led to the large influx of repatriation flights at the beginning of the pandemic.
Gonzalez Laya explained that the majority of European transfers have taken place and that the government is now focusing on international transfers, with flights arriving in the coming weeks from Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador, Australia, Thailand and Colombia.
During her speech, Gonzalez Laya faced backlash over the government’s handling of the situation, with PP, Ciudadanos and Vox denouncing the difficulties that certain nationals have experienced returning to the country.
“You have made an enormous propaganda effort in a rescue operation that has not been successful,” said PP deputy Valentina Martinez Ferro.