10% of the European Union’s economy is from tourism. That industry typically brings in about 360 million international travelers who spend roughly 150 billion euros every summer.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue for hotels and restaurants in the EU is down 50%, and 90% for cruises and airlines, with the possibility of 6.4 million jobs at risk.
The European Commission has said their tourism industry is in “grave trouble,” and in response they have drafted a strategy called “Europe Needs A Break.”
Part of the plan calls for “targeted restrictions,” which would be reciprocal quarantine regulations on travel instead of general bans. There would be a gradual lifting of borders among European and close neighboring countries, but leisure travel would only be allowed, by mutual agreement, between countries that had similar COVID-19 risk profiles.
Under the plan, tourists from other European countries would be allowed entry based on the origin of their passport, not what country they arrived from. So, for example, if Austria and Germany were determined to have similar COVID-19 situations and had a reciprocity agreement, those with German passports could enter Austria and vice versa. However an American who got the OK to be in Berlin for a “had to be there in person” business meeting and wanted to fly to Austria for a leisurely weekend, could not.
The system would help the so-called “corona corridors” that have already been in negotiations in certain parts of Europe. For example, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia are currently negotiating details that would allow travelers from each of those countries to travel to the other two. Greece, Cyprus and Israel are currently working on a similar agreement. An interactive map would be available to European citizens to allow them to know what the at-the-moment border control rules were.
“This is not going to be a normal summer, not for any of us. But when we all work together, and we all do our part … then we don’t have to face a summer stuck at home or a complete lost summer for the European tourist industry,” European Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager told reporters.
Before the strategy would begin, the European Commission has asked the Schengen countries to extend a restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until June 15. That travel restriction, as well as the invitation to extend it as needed, applies to the ‘EU+ area’, which includes all Schengen member countries (including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) and the 4 Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). This would decrease the risk of the virus progressing.
Tourists from further-out countries, and/or ones that are currently deemed too lax or careless in their response to the virus (sounds like the U.S., doesn’t it?) may have access sometime in the future, once adequate testing, anti-virals and/or a vaccine are on board. For this summer, though, leisure travel will only be allowed, by mutual agreement, between countries that have similar COVID-19 risk profiles.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary