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European Tourism Federations Urge EU-wide ‘Covid-normal’ Health Code

The Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE) has joined a European partnership of tourism federations calling on the European Commission to show resolve and proceed with actions that will ensure a unified health, safety and communication protocol so that travel can resume in the post-Covid-19 era and confidence be restored during travel and at the destination.

SETE, which is a member of the “European Partnership” together with umbrella tourism federations in Germany, Italy and Norway, sent a letter this week to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, and to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner of Internal Market, EC Tourism Committee president, requesting the establishment of a so-called ‘Covid-normal’ – a scheme with uniform standardized protocols and regulations initially across Europe, so as to avoid unilateral actions by member states. 

In the letter, the federations stress that the current non-transparent practices by EU members have exacerbated the Covid-19 impact leading to confusion among potential travelers.

“It is, therefore, imperative that a ‘Covid-normal’ is established with uniform / standardized protocols and regulations (at least) across Europe, so as to avoid unilateral actions by member countries,” the letter said.

The bodies – the Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry (BTW), Federturismo Confindustria, Italian Federation of Travel and Tourism Industries, Norwegian Tourism Partners, and SETE – are requesting a single scheme which includes a coordinated approach on travel advice, testing systems, and medical facilities, and is communicated in a clear way in all EU countries.

Referring to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the tourism bodies noted that though many governments reopened tourism enterprises in the summer in an effort to safeguard the livelihoods of millions of people, as well as of whole communities on islands or in other isolated areas that depend on tourism, the reopening of the market was limited, with destinations reporting drops between 70 and 90 percent in their tourism activity.

They cite the declines both to Covid-19 fears as well as to waning consumer confidence which is a result of divergent regulations, unclear guidelines and constantly changing quarantine measures.

On a final note, the federations underline the importance of tourism businesses and workforce receiving support so that they can return to operations when tourism activity begins its recovery.

They propose a series of actions supported by EU funding programs that should be taken immediately to gain ground and prepare ahead. These include tourism professionals reskill and upskill; improving the sector’s digitalization; and working towards sustainability of businesses and destinations.

The demand comes months after the European Partnership called for the elaboration of an EU health and safety protocol for the entire travel and tourism value-added chain, requesting that a unified protocol is “a precondition for the restart of travel in the EU”.

The letter sent to the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, and to Thierry Breton, European Commissioner of Internal Market, EC Tourism Committee president, can be read here.

About the Author
Chicago-born and raised, Maria Paravantes has over two decades of journalistic experience covering tourism and travel, gastronomy, arts, music and culture, economy and finance, politics, health and social issues for international press and media. She has worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, Huffington Post, Billboard Magazine, Time Out Athens, the Athens News, Odyssey Magazine and SETimes.com, among others. She has also served as Special Advisor to Greece’s minister of Foreign Affairs, and to the mayor of Athens on international press and media issues. Maria is currently a reporter, content and features writer for GTP Headlines.

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