EU tourism ministers said on Monday that national and member state measures to ease restrictions in place for the past two months as part of coronavirus (Covid-19) containment actions were on track.
The ministers held a video conference on Monday seeking ways to reignite tourism, exchange best practices and identify ways of boosting the sector, which accounts for 10 percent of the EU’s GDP, nearly 12 percent of all jobs and is the fourth largest export category with consumption generating over 400 billion euros in revenue.
“Our mission is to be, as members of the European Union and as part of the most successful tourist region in the world, a leader in the recovery of tourism, which as a horizontal activity directly affects the recovery of the entire economy,” said Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli.
“I am particularly pleased that at the meeting of the members of the European Council last week it was agreed upon to establish a Recovery Fund, which will target the hardest hit sectors and geographical parts of Europe. I believe that we are all aware that tourism definitely falls into the category of the most affected sectors in this crisis”, stated Mr. Gari Cappelli, Minister of tourism of the Republic of Croatia,” he added.
Before Covid-19, three quarters of international trips by EU citizens were to other EU countries, which accounted for 94 percent of total overnight stays.
Εpidemiologists to help ensure travel safety
Among the proposals to facilitate travel in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis are opening “tourist corridors” (open borders) between EU member states with the involvement of epidemiologists who will set the criteria and define the measures needed to ensure traveler safety.
Additionally, EU ministers called for a harmonized solution with regard to travel package refund policies, including vouchers as well as a unified legal framework for tour operators providing temporary flexibility and liquidity and ensuring all both tour operator and consumer interests are safeguarded.
Cappelli added that EU states are insisting tourism be included in the EU’s recovery plan and that establishing common rules for air and sea or land mobility is vital.
The ministers also stressed the need for enhanced coordination on the EU level and on updated actions to be shared between members.
On his part, Commissioner Breton stressed that the emergency measures and funds the Commission has mobilised should support member states’ efforts to keep the lifeline in the short and medium-term. He invited member states to use them to the fullest and ensure that they benefit a maximum of the workers affected.
“We will need unprecedented funds to overcome this crisis. There is a need for a ‘new Marshall Plan’ with a powerful EU budget to jumpstart the path towards European recovery and a stronger and more resilient Union,” said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, adding that “no country can overcome this crisis alone”.