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EU Lawmakers Propose Testing Protocol to Get Travel Started

The pandemic shifted travellers’ demands towards ‘safe and clean’ and more sustainable tourism. Photo source” European Parliament ©AdobeStock/Chalabala

In efforts to restore safe travel, EU lawmakers are requesting that a new strategy on sustainable tourism include an EU Health Safety protocol for testing before departure as a first step.

Listing EU criteria for “safe and clean tourism”, MEPs said, at a later point in time the introduction of a common vaccination certificate could serve as an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements. It would be  implemented “once there is sufficient evidence that vaccinated persons do not transmit the virus”.

On the initiative of MEP Elena Kountoura, former Greek tourism minister, the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) adopted a draft resolution this week on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, urging EU countries to include the tourism and travel sectors in their recovery plans and consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.

The Union’s tourism sector employs 27 million people and the Covid-19 crisis has put some 6 million jobs at risk.

The resolution encourages the Commission and member states to initially apply an EU Health Safety protocol for coronavirus testing before departure for each trip to the EU and ordering quarantines as a last resort.

Photo source: WTTC

Photo source: WTTC

The MEPs also recommend the use of a vaccination certificate initially for medical reasons only, clarifying that in the future its use for travel purposes could be considered as an alternative to tests “provided that there is sufficient scientific evidence that vaccinated individuals do not transmit the virus and when the general European population has access to vaccination”.

“With summer just around the corner, we want to avoid past errors and put in place uniform travel measures, such as an EU protocol for tests before departure, a vaccination certificate, and a European sanitary seal,” said EP rapporteur Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar.

Europe’s lawmakers also stress the importance of deploying an EU Passenger Locator Form and developing voluntary, interoperable and anonymised tracking, tracing and warning apps.

The resolution also encourages the Commission to introduce an EU hygiene certification seal which could certify minimum Covid-19 prevention and control standards and help to restore consumer trust.

Additionally, MEPs also urged member states to send clear information on the application or lifting of future restrictions on free movement to the Commission.

Lastly, Europe’s legislators called for the establishment of a European Agency for Tourism.

The resolution still needs to passed by parliament, possibly during the March II session.

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