Europe’s Transport and Tourism Committee is calling on the EU Commission to take immediate and unified action to save the sector and some 22 million jobs which are at risk due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
European Parliament Task Force members met on Wednesday, and urged the Committee to formulate a strategy on sustainable tourism and to set a direct and dedicated budget in the next long-term EU budget.
More specifically, the Task Force is requesting consistent and transparent criteria to assess the risks across the Union; EU-level coordination of travel restrictions, hygiene and health protocols; concrete action and guarantees for tourism SMEs; clearer information for travelers; and a common EU policy for sustainable tourism.
The tourism sector is “on the verge of collapse” with 22 million people in the EU working in this sector at risk of losing their jobs, the committee said, underlining the importance of EU-level coordination and substantial support to give SMEs a chance of survival.
“As things stand, hundreds of thousands of SMEs will not survive until the end of this year,” Task Force MEPs, including Greece’s Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, said in a joint statement, which comes on the back of an International Air Transport Association (IATA) call on member states to implement coordinated actions that will facilitate travel and connectivity.
The lawmakers are expressing their disappointment with EU bodies, claiming they have done little to help the travel and tourism sector survive, they said in the statement, adding that the sector accounts for 4.3-25 percent of the GDP of member states.
“More than six months have passed in this emergency situation, yet there are still no common criteria in the EU on how to handle and live with this pandemic: no universal hygiene and health protocols, no common rules for testing or on how to assess the risks, no adhering to the free movement principle.”
“We insist on urgent concrete action from the European Commission and the member states. A well-defined crisis management mechanism is needed; the sector is fighting to survive,” the statement reads.
The Task Force is calling for a 300-million-euro budget line for the development of sustainable tourism over the next seven years.
“It is essential to make sure that this economic sector will have a chance to get back on its feet after months of stagnation and so that we can shape it to become more sustainable,” the statement said.