The EU heavily depends on tourism, which is vital to all its nations as a whole, accounting for 10 percent of GDP and supporting 23 million jobs. Amid coronavirus lockdown and gradual reopening of the economies, the normal holiday season is practically unreachable, in fact.
The EU authorities have agreed that it won’t be a normal summer this year. While EC has set out plans for a phased restart of travel this summer, the prognosis is rather moody. The world’s biggest tourism group TUI said on Wednesday it planned to slash 8,000 jobs as it reported a net loss of over 750 million euros for the first three months of the year.
Meanwhile, the EU is hoping to save millions of tourism jobs threatened by the coronavirus pandemic across Europe, the world’s top holiday destination. Travel restrictions to combat the virus have already had a devastating impact on the sector, with airlines around the continent forced to shed tens of thousands of jobs.
Holidays in the time of COVID-19 look set to be rather different than before, with measures in place to minimise the risk of infection.
EU: Post-COVID guidelines kill tourism softly
Travellers should wear facemasks while on shared transport such as planes, trains and buses — as well as at hubs such as airports and railway stations, under the EU recommendations.
Under new guidelines from Brussels, holidaymakers could be asked to wear facemasks on planes, respect social distancing on the beach and even book slots to use hotel pools.
“Today’s guidance can be the chance of a better season for the many Europeans whose livelihood depends on tourism and, of course, for those who would like to travel this summer,” the EU commission’s executive vice president Margrethe Vestager told reporters.
The EU is proposing a three-stage approach, starting with the current situation in which most non-essential travel across borders is banned.
In the next phase, the EU wants border restrictions lifted between countries and regions at a similar stage of the pandemic, and where the health situation is improving.
In the final phase, all coronavirus-related border controls would be lifted and travel permitted throughout Europe once again.
No timescale has been announced, with Brussels urging governments to consider economic and social factors as well as health when they weigh up reopening their borders.