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ETC’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak

ETC is continuously monitoring developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the tourism industry. We are working closely with the European Commission, and other stakeholders in the sector to mitigate the immediate effects of the virus and pave the way towards a swift recovery. Additionally, we have joined forces with our associate members and partners to provide useful webinars and data to help NTOs and DMOs navigate challenges now and in post-crisis times. Please see below ETC’s response to the crisis, as well as further information from our members, the EU and other trusted resources.

Latest Figures and Reports

  • The updated edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer (15 September) shows that international tourist arrivals in Europe were down 66% in the first half of 2020 over the same period last year, with a 97% drop in the second quarter. By subregion, international arrivals fell an estimated 72% in Southern and Mediterranean Europe and 64% in Northern Europe this sixmonth period. A slight improvement during the month of June helped to slow down the pace of decrease in arrivals in Western Europe (63%) and Central and Eastern Europe (62%). More latest numbers are available in the new UNWTO Tourism Recovery Tracker.
  • According to the latest UNWTO report on travel restrictions (10 September), 44 destinations in Europe, including 25 out of 26 Schengen Member States had eased travel restrictions. Europe is the region with the highest number of destinations easing restrictions so far (81%).
  • The latest aviation data from ACI EUROPE shows a continued decline in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports during the first two weeks of September – standing at a loss of -73%; down from ‘peak recovery level’ of -65% mid-August.
  • ETC’s latest quarterly report “European Tourism: Trends & Prospects” (9 July) shows that travel to Europe expected to be 54% lower in 2020 compared to 2019. Data reported by destinations to the months of April/May reflect the level of the disruption caused by the pandemic. Croatia (-86%) and Cyprus (-78%) saw the biggest declines reflecting the sizeable losses of key source markets, such as Italy and the UK, which were heavily impacted by the pandemic. The report also includes a special feature on the potential increase in domestic and short-haul travel within Europe and the role this will play to bring the sector back to life this year.
  • The world’s tourism sector could lose at least $1.2 trillion, or 1.5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP), having been placed at a standstill for nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, UNCTAD said in a report published on 1 July. The UN’s trade and development body warned that the loss could rise to $2.2 trillion or 2.8% of the world’s GDP if the break in international tourism lasts for eight months. In the most pessimistic scenario, a 12-month break in international tourism, at $3.3 trillion or 4.2% of global GDP.
  • The OECD assessment (updated on 2 June) shows that the implied shock could amount to a 60-80% decline in the international tourism economy in 2020, depending on the duration of the crisis and the speed with which travel and tourism rebounds.
  • The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimate (10 June) shows that between 14.2 million and 29.5 million tourism jobs in Europe are in jeopardy due to the outbreak.
  • ETC associate member ADARA has been monitoring on a weekly basis the impact of COVID-19 on travel searches and bookings to Europe. See the latest update here.
  • ETC associate member SOJERN also provides insights on changes in flight searches and hotel volume. See the latest data below. For further explanations of the insights check here
We are Europe

ETC’s Engagement with EU Policy-makers & Stakeholders

  • ETC is co-organising together with the European Commission a weekly ad-hoc informal network to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the response required by both public and private sectors. The outcomes of the regular discussions of this network are transmitted to the cabinet of the Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton, as part of the briefings guiding the European Commission Coronavirus response team. ETC has already hosted over 20 meetings of the group.
  • ETC together with over 20 travel and tourism bodies as well as unions across Europe united in an unprecedented call for European Commission leadership to replace quarantine restrictions with an EU Testing Protocol for Travel in a bid to save the livelihoods of more than 27 million Europeans who work in the sector.
  • ETC is also closely cooperating with EU tourism stakeholders through the European Tourism Manifesto alliance. The alliance gathers more than 60 European public and private organisations, covering the whole tourism value chain and beyond. ETC is one of the founding organisations of the European Tourism Manifesto and currently holds the Secretariat and Chairmanship.
  • In September, the European Tourism Manifesto alliance issued a statement calling on EU Member States to urgently agree on harmonised travel restrictions and ensure swift implementation to help the sector survive this unprecedented crisis. Other latest statements on COVID-19 tourism recovery and support measures can be found here.
  • ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander participated in high-level virtual meetings with EU Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton and a small group of key EU tourism stakeholders. ETC has called on the Commissioner to invest in brand Europe and a Europe-wide tourism campaign, promoting the force of travel to help the local communities and save tourism in Europe.
  • ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander also took part in a digital meeting with Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean to support the Commission’s efforts in coming up with an integrated concept on how to restart transport links for the benefit of tourism.
  • ETC is also participating in the Travel & Tourism Task Force on COVID-19 organised by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). ETC Executive Director Eduardo Santander represents the European tourism sector and exchanges the latest updates with major international public and private stakeholders, including UNWTO, OECD, PATA, ICAO, ACI and CLIA.
  • Moreover, ETC is actively engaging in media communications to stress the impact of the COVID-19 on the European tourism sector and highlight the importance of the coordinated approach to recovery in Europe. ETC’s interviews/comments/statement were featured in Bloomberg, The New York Times, Euractiv, NBC, BBC World News, CNBC, CGTN, Euronews, TRT Worldthe Wall Street Journal, Agence Europe and other press outlets.

ETC COVID-19 Research

Handbook on COVID-19 Recovery Strategies for National Tourism Organisations

As businesses and communities rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be vital to ensure that this recovery takes place in a way that reduces the negative impacts of tourism…

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European Tourism 2020 – Trends & Prospects (Q2/2020)

COVID-19 HAS WREAKED HAVOC ON EUROPEAN TRAVEL DEMAND The impact of the global health crisis is becoming clear with European tourism growth expected to remain below 2019 levels until 2023….

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Long-Haul Travel Barometer 2/2020

Results of the latest Long-Haul Travel Barometer (LHTB) indicate that confidence for travel to Europe in summer 2020 is weak across all six markets monitored. What is significant, however, is…

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European Tourism 2020 – Trends & Prospects (Q1/2020)

EUROPEAN TOURISM AMIDST AN UNPRECEDENTED CRISIS Containment efforts across Europe due to the Coronavirus outbreak have left countries struggling to support their economies and have taken a severe toll on…

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ETC Members

Please see below general information, health and travel guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic from ETC member organisations and their respective national governments.

EU Response to the COVID-19 outbreak

  • To support a safe relaunch of travelling and tourism, the EU has launched an interactive platform which provides real-time information on borders and available means of transport and tourism services, as well as health and safety measures and restrictions across all EU Member States.
  • On 30 June, EU governments agreed on the gradual lifting of the temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU as from 1 July. The Council of the European Union adopted a recommendation outlining the criteria to determine the third countries for which the current travel restriction should be lifted and the first list of countries.
  • The latest revised list (7 August) includes the following countries: Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity).
  • On 27 May, the European Commission put forward its proposal for a major recovery planTo ensure the recovery is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all Member States, the European Commission is proposing to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, embedded within a revamped long-term EU budget. Next Generation EU of €750 billion as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion.
    • Tourism is mentioned in the Commission’s Communication as one of the hardest-hit sectors along with social economy, the creative and cultural ecosystems which “could see a more than 70% drop in turnover in the second quarter of 2020”.
    • In the Commission Staff Working Document with the analysis of investment losses and needs for 14 industrial ecosystems, the tourism ecosystem is put on top of the basic investment needs with €161 bn required.
  • On 13 May, the European Commission presented a package on ‘Tourism and Transport in 2020 and Beyond’ with the aim of safely restoring free movement and travel, and paving the way to recovery for the European tourism sector in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The package includes guidelines and recommendations for Member States for a harmonised approach to lifting border restrictions, making vouchers a more attractive option to travellers, and safely re-establishing transportation links and tourism activities.
    • In line with the Joint European Roadmap to lifting coronavirus containment measures, travel restrictions should first be lifted in countries with comparable epidemiological situations and sufficient health facilities. Proportionality and non-discrimination between EU citizens should be ensured throughout this process.
    • The communication sets out detailed health and safety guidelines to allow for the gradual reopening of transport services and hospitality establishments across Europe. It also highlights the importance of information-sharing with travellers, committing to creating a dedicated portal for intra-European travellers with real-time information about borders and available tourism and health services. The website will be compiled with data from Member States and the travel and tourism industry.
    • Domestic and intra-European tourism should be the primary focus in recovery of the sector, encouraging travellers to explore their local areas, and providing new opportunities to promote coastal, maritime and rural tourism. The European Year of Rail 2021 can also be leveraged as a promotional tool for intra-European travel.
    • Patronage voucher schemes will be encouraged, and the Commission will cooperate with Member States to call for pledges from tourism businesses to launch such systems.
    • The Commission will strive towards creating a sustainable future for the European tourism industry, while maintaining its position as the world’s leading destination. This should be ensured through dispersion and diversification of tourist flows, promotion of sustainable accommodations and tourism services and upskilling for tourism professionals. Moreover, the tourism industry should capitalise on digitalisation (such as big data and blockchain technology), especially in tourism SMEs and rural areas.
    • Finally, the Commission calls for a coordinated response at the European level and proposes to hold a European tourism convention in view of building a ‘European Agenda for Tourism 2050’.
  • On 20 May, EU tourism ministers welcomed the Tourism and Transport package and stressed the importance of cooperation between Member States in gradually lifting of travel restrictions, based on epidemiological grounds, while complying with the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination.
  • European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton called for the establishment of “A Marshall Plan” for tourism. On 21 April, Mr Breton stated at the European Parliament’s hearing that the tourism ecosystem is of the “highest priority” in the EU crisis response and requires financial “firepower” with about 20% of COVID-19 recovery funds to save the tourism economy.
  • The European Commission set up a €37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative which allows authorities to redirect unused amounts under the European Structural and Investment Funds to inject liquidity into the most affected businesses, including in the tourism sector.
  • To facilitate immediate relief to hard-hit SMEs, EUR 1 billion was made available from the EU budget as a guarantee to the European Investment Fund (EIF) to support approximately EUR 8 billion of working capital financing and help at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-caps.
  • In order to protect jobs and workers, the Commission put in place the temporary initiative SURE – Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency. It helps Member States cover the costs of national short-time work schemes through the financial assistance of up to €100 billion
  • The Commission also adopted the state aid temporary framework to enable Member States to use the full flexibility foreseen under State aid rules to support the economy in the COVID-19 outbreak. EU State aid rules allow Member States to compensate companies for the damage directly caused by exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The European Commission has already approved numerous state aid schemes to support companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including several measures directly aimed at the travel & tourism sector such as

And others – see more state aid measures by this link.

  • The European Institutions have agreed to suspend the rules obliging airlines to use their allocated slots at EU airports. The waiver applies from 1 March to 24 October 2020 as well as retroactively from 23 January to 29 February 2020 for flights between the EU and China. Without such a measure, airlines would have to continue to operate flights, even if largely empty, to guarantee their current slots at EU airports.
  • Transport ministers of 12 EU Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal) issued a joint statement on 29 April, asking the European Commission for a temporary suspension of EU passenger rights in favour of allowing airlines to reimburse travellers with vouchers. The transport ministers stated that vouchers should be valid for a set length of time and include the right for reimbursement if they are not used before the end of that period. Protection should also be provided in the case of airline bankruptcies. According to media reports, the statement was also supported by Germany, Spain, Romania and Estonia.
  • On 13 May, the Commission released new recommendations on the protection of EU passenger rights encouraging transparency and fairness in online booking and cancellation procedures. While reaffirming traveller’s right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for cancelled transport tickets or package travel, the recommendation aims to ensure that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative to reimbursement for cancelled trips in the context of the current pandemic, which has also put heavy financial strains on travel operators. The voluntary vouchers should be protected against insolvency of the issuer, with a minimum validity period of 12 months, and be refundable after at most one year, if not redeemed.

ETC Webinar Series

ETC has partnered up with its associate members & partners to produce a series of webinars for our members and travel and tourism professionals during the months of April and May. The webinars aim to provide new data on the current tourism landscape, tips for crisis management, and upskilling opportunities. Click below to see recordings and presentations from previous webinars.

 

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