The UK’s music industry has welcomed the decision by the Spanish government to scrap post-Brexit visa requirements for UK artists on short-term tours, but warned significant issues still remain that will make many tours “impossible”.
Spain’s announcement means UK musicians and their crew will no longer need visas for engagements of less than 90 days, a change in policy that came after months of lobbying from trade groups on both sides.
The organisation UK Music, which has described the visa requirements as “costly and bureaucratic barriers that threatened the industry’s talent pipeline”, described the move as a “big victory”.
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music chief executive, said the decision was a first step in the right direction but added: “The lifting of visa restrictions by the Spanish government is a hugely welcome move,” he said. “However, it is important to remember that major issues still remain, particularly cabotage [the transport of goods or passengers between two places in the same country by a foreign operator], which makes many tours impossible.
“We will continue to press the case with the government here and with EU nations to remove all the costly and bureaucratic restrictions that remain when it comes to touring the EU.”
He added: “It is vital for our economy and exports that musicians and crew can tour freely, grow their fanbase and share the very best of British music across Europe and the rest of the world.”
During the Brexit negotiations, the UK government faced accusations that it had treated cultural industries as an afterthought by failing to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew.
European festival promoters have previously said they are likely to book fewer UK acts as a result of the cost of visas, which would deal a huge blow for crews still reeling from the pandemic’s impact on the industry.
Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, said the decision was “really great news”. “We’ve been working closely with the Spanish government to make touring easier – and they’ve just confirmed that musicians no longer need visas to go on short-term tours,” she said. “Twenty-one member states now offer visa and permit-free routes for touring performers. Six more to go.”