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Tourism Stakeholders Warn of ‘Holiday Travel Chaos’ Due to Reintroduction of Restrictions

Photo source: European Commission

Travel and tourism stakeholders, representing travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers and F&B establishments, are reacting to the reintroduction of travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers by several EU Member States in response to the new Covid variant Omicron.

The stakeholders refer to “erratic and reckless decisions” of governments to reintroduce travel restrictions on vaccinated travellers as, according to scientific evidence, they have no impact on the spread of the Omicron variant in Europe.

“This has shattered plans for countless thousands hoping to cross borders to see friends and family over the holidays, and puts agents and operators in financial jeopardy yet again,” ECTAA, ETOA, HOTREC and WTTC said in a joint announcement.

According to the stakeholders, changing travel restrictions at very short notice weakens travel confidence and undermines all the efforts that have been done so far, including the EU Digital COVID Certificate, to lift movement restrictions for vaccinated and recovered people.

Photo source: European Commission

The stakeholders are urging governments to follow the European Council’s recent conclusions to “continue coordinated efforts to respond to developments based on the best available scientific evidence”.

New guidance from the ECDC indicates that the Omicron variant is now present across Europe and infections predominantly driven by community transmissions rather than travel-related cases. The ECDC recommends strengthening of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs), such as avoiding large public or private gatherings, encouraging the use of face masks, teleworking, etc.

There is no recommendation to reintroduce travel restrictions.

“This is in line with the previous assessment that travel restrictions are ineffective in reducing virus transmission, hospitalisations, or deaths,” ECTAA, ETOA, HOTREC and WTTC said.Christmas and winter ski vacations represent an important tourism season

According to Eurostat 2018/19 data, 33.7 percent of all nights spent in tourist accommodation establishments in the EU27 were in the winter season (November to April included).

Overnight stays in the EU27 in winter 2020-2021 dropped by 71 percent compared to winter 2018-2019 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is also an important period for planning the upcoming summer holidays.

With erratic travel restrictions Europe will once again lose out on an important tourism season,” the travel and tourism stakeholders conclude.

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