A few dozen tourists from the United States arrived at Madrid’s iconic Palacio de España in a crowded tourist attraction on Saturday, where they waved flags and held signs reading “Madrid welcomes tourists.”
“We are here to welcome you, to welcome the people of Spain,” said the man holding the flag, who asked not to be identified for fear of losing his job.
The number of tourists to the country had dwindled in recent years due to political uncertainty and a high cost of living, but they were welcomed as the government approved 2.5 million tourist visas, making it the most generous visa program in Europe.
They were greeted with cheers from Spanish locals and the occasional shout of “Tucos” in Spanish, the national anthem.
A number of foreigners also were welcomed at the city’s famous Copacabana beach, which attracts tourists from across the world.
One group of American tourists, who arrived from Houston, wore white T-shirts and waved American flags as they walked through the crowd.
“We’re all American,” said one of the women wearing a T-shirt that said “America is Here.”
“We’re here to visit Spain.”