European Tourism Body Calls for Shared Travel Restrictions and Criteria

Representing more than 60 public and private tourism-related organizations, the European Tourism Manifesto alliance is appealing to governments of the European Union’s (E.U.) member countries to urgently agree upon a harmonized set of travel restrictions amid COVID-19.

In a statement, the alliance applauded the European Commission’s recent renewed efforts to improve coordination of cross-border travel regulations within Schengen area. “In the wake of an expected dramatic economic downturn, it is crucial that travel within the E.U. and the wider European area (including EEA, UK and Switzerland) be carefully and quickly restored,” the statement read.

European travel and tourism, it noted, is the sector that’s been hardest-hit by the pandemic’s fallout, due to patchwork-style travel restrictions and varying guidelines adopted by member countries that serve to further undermine consumer confidence amid already severely reduced travel demand.

The alliance noted that traveler confidence has reached a record low, with Europe’s overall hotel occupancy rates for July 2020 recorded at 26.5 percent—a fall of 66.4 percent from the previous year. Of its typically top-five destinations, France, Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands experienced only 40 percent the intra-European travel volumes seen in 2019, with Spain reporting just 22 percent of last year’s volume.

While many Europeans were eager to vacation over the summer, inconsistent and everchanging border regulations, resulting in widespread confusion and concern about quarantine and testing requirements when entering other countries or upon their return home, convinced many people to forego traveling.

Now, the alliance is appealing to the governments of E.U. member nations to urgently approve the European Commission’s current proposal and to:

—Establish common epidemiological criteria and thresholds, used to determine the risk of viral transmission, including a commonly recognized color-coding system to denote areas’ respective risk levels.

—Adopt common measures for departure to and return from risk areas.

– Replace the need for quarantining with comprehensive testing and tracing practices.

– Establish common rules for requesting pre-travel COVID-19 negative test results, where needed.

– Avoid blanket restrictions on movement, favoring more closely-targeted, regional measures.

– Avoid imposing restrictions on in-transit travelers.

– Ensure the interoperability of contact-tracing apps used throughout the E.U.

– Harmonize Passenger Locator Forms across the E.U., based on international standards.

—Adopt a shared, structured and transparent process and publish comprehensive, clear and timely information on travel restrictions, to be made available on the Re-open EU web platform.

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) latest research suggests that every 2.7-percent increase in travel flows would resurrect one million jobs in the now-devastated sector. The European Tourism Manifesto alliance estimates that harmonizing the inconsistent COVID-19 rules and guidelines across Europe could result in as much as a 27-percent increase in travel, bringing back ten million tourism-related jobs to the E.U.

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