The European Tourism Manifesto alliance applauds renewed efforts of the European Commission as well as the initiative from the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union from last week to improve coordination on cross-border travel and restore the integrity of the Schengen area. The need for continued COVID-19 control is foreseeable and, under Art.24 of the Schengen Borders Code, any related border restrictions must be coordinated. In the wake of an expected dramatic economic downturn, it is crucial that travel within the EU and the wider European area (including EEA, UK and Switzerland) be carefully and quickly restored. In addition, international coordination to re-establish transatlantic travel would provide a vital boost to the travel and tourism sector.
European travel and tourism is the ecosystem most affected by the coronavirus crisis due to insufficiently coordinated travel restrictions, declining traveller confidence and reduced consumer demand. The 2020 summer season was strongly impacted by this crisis, with traveller confidence reaching a record low. Hotel occupancy rates in Europe were at 26.5% in July 2020, which accounts for a fall of 66.4% compared to the same month last year . Moreover, top 5 European destinations, such as France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands only saw just 40% of 2019’s volumes for intra-European travel, with Spain lagging at 22% of last year’s volumes.
While many Europeans were keen to travel again during the summer, the inconsistent and ever-changing border restrictions along with confusion about quarantine and test requirements, caused frustration for both businesses and travellers, deterring booking and damaging materialisation for both leisure and business travel.
We call on national governments to urgently approve the European Commission’s proposal and to:
The sector has been calling for better coordination between Member States and a harmonised European approach to travel restrictions and safety measures since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such an approach will help rebuild traveller confidence and help the sector in its slow recovery, protecting millions of livelihoods, jobs, and enterprises. Pending the return of significant visitor flows, continued financial support for the sector is necessary so that the European tourism ecosystem returns employment to the economy as soon as possible.
Proving the importance of tourism recovery as a catalyst for European economic revival, the latest WTTC research shows that every 2.7% increase in travel flows would generate or bring back one million jobs in the sector. Harmonising the inconsistent patchwork of COVID-19 rules and travel advice in Europe could lead to an increase in travellers by as much as 27%, recreating 10 million jobs in travel and tourism across Europe.
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 European Commission’s Proposal for a COUNCIL RECOMMENDATION on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 4th September 2020 - https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_1555
 Dates are compared from January 6 – July 12, 2020 with the same time last year; https://forwardkeys.com/q4-outlook-for-travel-in-europe/
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