The European Union has begun setting out measures to help member nations revive their tourism sectors, as national governments begin easing COVID-19 lockdown measures.
The EU is proposing a series of continent-wide actions, ranging from the lifting of internal border controls and restoration of transport services to a scheme which would see vouchers offered to passengers and travellers as an alternative to reimbursement for cancelled package travel and transport services.
It will also look to offer specific guidance for the resumption of tourism services – and for health protocols in hospitality establishments.
In a document, entitled Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond
, the European Commission sets out the framework for the return of tourism and for the sector to resume businesses "in line with epidemiological and public health criteria".
"The months to come should not be lost for the vibrant European tourism ecosystem covering a range of activities such as travel, transport, accommodation, food, recreation on land and water, culture or nature," the Commission states in the introduction to the document.
"Directly and indirectly, tourism contributes close to 10 per cent to EU GDP and has made the EU the world’s leading tourism destination, with 563 million international arrivals and 30 per cent of global receipts in 2018.
"For many Member States, European regions and cities, tourism is a key contributor to the economic and social fabric.
"But this ecosystem has been hit hard. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) foresees a decline of international tourism of 60 per cent to 80 per cent compared to last year, amounting to losses of between €840bn to €1.1bn in export revenues worldwide.
"The next months are crucial: during an average European summer season (June-August) residents of the EU make 385 million tourism trips and spend €190bn."
The main, lead document is supported by a number of specific initiatives.
"The accompanying initiatives set a coordinated framework to enable all Europe to benefit from a restful and above all, safe tourism season, gradually this summer and into the subsequent winter and beyond.
"In doing so, it also aims to support the sustainability of our valuable tourism ecosystem for generations to come."
The measures introduced by EU are likely to influence those eventually adopted by the UK too – as UK tourists are critical to many EU countries, while Europe remains the largest inbound market for the UK.
To access the main Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyonddocument, click here.
To access the accompanying, individual initiatives, see below:
• A common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way – – click here to read.
• A framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel – click here to read
• A recommendation aiming to make travel vouchers an "attractive alternative" to cash reimbursement for consumers – click here to read
• Guidance on the criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels – click here to read