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‘Europe needs a break’: EU to restart travel, tourism despite COVID

‘Europe needs a break’: EU to restart travel, tourism despite COVID

EU states agreed that the lockdown should be eased, people can not live in self-isolation for ever. Now, the EU governments should guarantee vouchers for travel cancelled during the coronavirus outbreak, start lifting internal border restrictions, and to start the summer tourism season.

For all the EU member states, the tourism normally contributes almost a tenth of the economic output. Coronacrisis just smashed that field, so, the governments need to restart the travel and the hospitality industry to offer full refunds for cancelled flights and trips instead of vouchers for future travel.

Next week, the European Commission will tell member states to guarantee vouchers to make them more attractive to customers, according to a strategy document seen by Reuters ahead of official publication due on Wednesday.

As draft reads, to provide incentives for passengers and travellers to accept vouchers instead of reimbursement, vouchers should be protected against insolvency of the issuer and remain refundable by the end of their validity if not redeemed.

“Insolvency protection needs to be assured at the national level and secured vouchers need to be accessible to all passengers and travellers,” Reuters quoted the draft version of the EC document.

In other words, the EU executive is going to tell the bloc’s 27 member nations to gradually lift internal border restrictions and restart some travel to help the ailing tourism sector.

Tourism as an important part of the EU countris’ economy

The coronacrisis showed that EU tourism is an integral part of the economy. Normally, it guarantees some EUR150 billion every season from June through August with some 360 million international arrivals, according to the EC statistics.

In 2020, Europe’s external borders will be shut for any non-essential travel until at least mid-June. That means that European tourism is in grave trouble. The EC warns that 6.4 million jobs could be lost in the sector that has reported falls in revenue ranging from 50% for hotels and restaurants to 90% for cruises and airlines.

The pandemic set the EU on a path towards its worst-ever economic downturn and bitterly tested unity between member states fighting over medical equipment, export bans on drugs, chaotic border curbs and money to salvage their single market.

Titled “Europe needs a break” the Commission’s tourism strategy will call for targeted restrictions to replace a general ban on travel and seek a gradual lifting of internal border checks where the epidemiological indicators have stabilized.

With Europeans most likely to stay at home or travel shorter distances this summer, peripheral EU regions and islands are likely to be shunned and will take longer to bounce back.

“Until a vaccine or treatment is available, the needs and benefits of travel and tourism needs to be weighed against the risks of again facilitating the spread of the virus… possibly leading to a reintroduction of confinement measures,” the draft plan said.