Spain is looking for contingency plans at British tour operators about the fear of no-deal Brexit

The Spanish Tourism Minister has met with British tour operators to discuss emergency plans to ensure that millions of British tourists can still visit their country in the event of a Brexit without a deal.

Reyes Maroto talks this week with the heads of some of the largest travel agencies in Britain, including Thomas Cook, to make proposals in case the UK would drop out of the EU without a withdrawal contract.

About 18 million British tourists travel to Spain each year, accounting for almost a quarter of all visitors.

"British tourists should know that Spain will still be an attractive destination next year," said Ms. Maroto, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

"We outline a list of measures, the most important of which are to have laws and regulations that allow us to respond quickly to problems that may arise in the movement of goods and people at the border."

International tourism accounts for about 11 percent of the Spanish economy of € 1 trillion (£ 870 billion) and the sector is the country's largest employer. More people travel from the UK to Spain than from another country.

Ms Maroto said: "For our government Brexit is a top priority and the commitment we have for Spanish companies and Spanish citizens in the UK, as well as for Britons in Spain, is to ensure that we have a solution for problems that can crop [up].

"We want to be optimistic, but we are at a time when we all have to keep the pressure on the negotiators to solve the few problems that are still pending."

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The chief negotiator of the EU warned Tuesday that an agreement with Britain on the Irish border – the biggest withdrawal issues that have yet to be resolved – was not close.

Michel Barnier said there was still a real point of divergence about the problem after Theresa May called for an evaluation mechanism to be linked to the planned EU relapse that would not guarantee a hard limit.

Delays in resolving the Northern Ireland border issue also mean that negotiators have not even developed an outline of a trade agreement.

Additional reporting by agencies