The European Partnership – an informal cooperation of umbrella tourism federations of the private sector in the key European destinations of Germany, Greece, Italy and Norway – is calling for the elaboration of an EU health and safety protocol for the entire travel and tourism value-added chain, that will be followed by all member states.
In a letter sent to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner of Internal Market and President of EC Tourism Committee, the European Partnership underlines that the requested protocol is “a precondition for the restart of travel in the EU”, following the lockdowns taken to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in no doubt, that the lockdowns to address the COVID-19 pandemic will deal a heavy blow to tourism in 2020, however, provided the right measures are taken, we can expect a recovery in 2021 and beyond, consistent with the EU’s vision,” the European Partnership said in its letter to the president of the EC Tourism Committee.
According to the European Partnership, it is “essential” for travel measures during the post-coronavirus period to be “uniform, realistic and viable”, for the tourism industry to restart within 2020¨, with health checks – on an EU protocol – run in the country of origin to minimize disruption to travel and reduce uncertainty for travelers.
“The alternative, i.e. where each country develops its own protocols, as already planned by some member states, will only lead to a fragmented European market and the increased uncertainty among potential travelers will be a heavy impediment to opening-up travel,” the European Partnership said.
In addition, the European Partnership said that immediate regulatory solutions/ frameworks are necessary (government aid, ad hoc sectoral means for labor, etc.) that will contribute to the ability of businesses to return and contribute to liquidity, further to the structural funds of the new 2021-2027 programme and supplementary to the Recovery Fund that is already being planned.
The European Partnership also mention additional measures considered necessary to support and speed up the recovery from the second half of 2020 and beyond, which include:
• the establishment of an EU framework for service providers in tourism (e.g. airlines, hotels, travel agencies, tour operators etc.) to provide vouchers instead of refunds for bookings cancelled due to the lockdowns, always taking into account consumer rights;
• extended use of the EU structural funds to support the tourism industry, including direct funding of companies involved in the tourism value added chain. These funds should encourage sustainable practices and development of smart / digital systems for the containment of the pandemic and the development of the tourism sector;
• a worldwide campaign to re-launch the EU as the world’s No. 1 destination;
• reduction of VAT, if possible to zero, on services and products in the tourism sector throughout 2021.
Tourism represents the essence of the European idea
The European Partnership highlights to the Commissioner that tourism is not just about the economy.
“Tourism and travel represent the essence of the European idea, the right and freedom to travel. The privilege of traveling across borders has been one of the biggest and most important achievement for Europeans and is an effective way for improving the understanding between people of different cultures and thus keeping and promoting peace. Lengthy travel restrictions would therefore not only damage the economy in a serious way but would in fact damage the basis of the European spirit.”
The European Partnership is comprised by the Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft – Germany, SETE (Greek Tourism Confederation) – Greece, FEDERTURISMO CONFINDUSTRIA – Italy and Norwegian Tourism Partners – Norway.
The letter sent to the European Commissioner of Internal Market and President of EC Tourism Committee, Thierry Breton, can be read here.