15 May, 2020

Vestager and Breton present guidelines for travel and tourism

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Europe earlier this year, many governments adopted extraordinary measures to contain the virus. These measures had an effect on many sectors and industries, including tourism and travel industry which was severely impacted by the closure of borders.

By now, governments across Europe have presented their strategies to exit lockdowns and lift some of the implemented restrictions. In this context, on 13 May, European Commission Executive Vice-President for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age Margrethe Vestager and Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton presented a package with guidelines and recommendations to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism industry while respecting the necessary health precautions.

The package is based on three fundamental principles of safety, non-discrimination, and responsibility, and includes provisions to:

  • Restore free movement and lift restrictions at EU internal borders gradually and in coordination (e.g. focus on areas where situation is improving and on economic and social considerations)
  • Make travel vouchers an alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers
  • Restore EU tourism in a safely and gradual way (e.g. health protocols, surveillance and testing)
  • Ensure safe and confident travel (e.g. ensure cross-border interoperability of tracing apps)

In her speech, Vestager urged for coordination and joint efforts from all sides so that borders can be opened and safe travel ensured.

“Of course, this is not going to be a normal summer, for any of us. But when we all work together and do our part, in the ways that the Commission is setting out today, we don't have to face a summer stuck at home – or a completely lost season for Europe's tourist industry,” she said.

Breton stressed that now is the time to prepare for the future and focus on finding green, digital, and resilient solutions.

“We need to work collectively – EU institutions, the industry, regions and cities, stakeholders – on how to achieve this, learning from the crisis, paying particular attention to SMEs, anticipating new trends and consumer patterns related to it,” he said.

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