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European travel & tourism sector urges EU governments to harmonise travel rules

European travel & tourism sector urges EU governments to harmonise travel rules

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector, calls on Member States to urgently agree on harmonised travel restrictions and ensure swift implementation to help the sector survive this unprecedented crisis.

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance applauds renewed efforts of the European Commission as well as the initiative from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union from last week to improve coordination on cross-border travel and restore the integrity of the Schengen area. The need for continued COVID-19 control is foreseeable and, under Art.24 of the Schengen Borders Code, any related border restrictions must be coordinated.

European travel and tourism is the ecosystem most affected by the coronavirus crisis due to insufficiently coordinated travel restrictions, declining traveller confidence and reduced consumer demand. The 2020 summer season was strongly impacted by this crisis, with traveller confidence reaching a record low. Hotel occupancy rates in Europe were at 26.5% in July 2020, which accounts for a fall of 66.4% compared to the same month last year [1]. Moreover, top 5 European destinations, such as France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands only saw just 40% of 2019’s volumes for intra-European travel, with Spain lagging at 22% of last year’s volumes[2].

We call on national governments to urgently approve the European Commission’s proposal and to: 

  • Establish common criteria and thresholds for determining epidemiological riskincluding a common colour-coding system to identify risk areas. These criteria should be evaluated on a detailed regional level, considering relevant geographical factors (particularly islands).
  • Implement common measures to put in place upon departure to and return from risk areas. These measures should be determined with sufficient detail and based on scientific evidence (as there is no reason to restrict travel to entire countries if only certain regions are affected), and comprise:
    • Replacing the need for quarantine of travellers with comprehensive cost-effective testing and tracing
    • Avoiding blanket restrictions to free movement by implementing more targeted measures which are limited in geographical scope
    • Avoiding imposing travel restrictions on passengers in transit
    • Agreeing on common rules for requesting pre-travel COVID-19 negative test results where needed
    • Ensuring the interoperability of contact tracing apps in the EU and the harmonization of Passenger Locator Forms based on international standards.
  • Follow a common structured and transparent process to publish clear, comprehensive and timely information about any travel restrictions where these are needed. Information should also be made available on the Re-open EU web platform.

The sector has been calling for better coordination between Member States and a harmonised European approach to travel restrictions and safety measures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such an approach will help rebuild traveller confidence and help the sector in its slow recovery, protecting millions of livelihoods, jobs, and enterprises.

Please see the full statement by this link.

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance gathers more than 60 European public and private organisations, covering the whole tourism value chain and beyond. The alliance calls on the European Union for action on key policy priorities for the tourism sector. For more information, please visit tourismmanifesto.eu.

The European Travel Commission is one of the founding organisations of the European Tourism Manifesto alliance and currently holds the Secretariat and Chairmanship.

 

[1] https://str.com/press-release/str-europe-hotel-performance-july-2020

[2] Dates are compared from January 6 – July 12, 2020 with the same time last year; https://forwardkeys.com/q4-outlook-for-travel-in-europe/