The Schengen Area and European Union will lose billions of dollars in 2021 if they do not open their borders and coordinate their approach to open their borders, according to a press release published by the European Tourism Operators Association (EOTA).
According to the press release, North Americans coming to Europe accounts for more than $70 billion of spending annually. In 2020, there was a steep drop of 90-95% in the tourism sector, which may carry over into the whole of 2021 if European countries do not start allowing third country nationals to enter for tourism purposes. If this does not happen soon, the entire high-season for tourism in Europe could be destroyed again in 2021.
“Normally, North America is by far the most important origin market for Europe, delivering approximately $70 billion of spending every year. In 2020, Europe saw a 90-95% decline in this business, in what was the biggest collapse in volume since records began. Much of this business was transferred into 2021, with the bulk of it planning to arrive in the period May to October. The continued uncertainty as to when they may be able to travel is placing this in jeopardy. US and Canadian clients need to cancel with 90 days’ notice, so early high season arrivals in Europe are about to disappear,” the press release reads.
According to the press release, border closures and re-openings are the top question that American travelers have in regards to whether or not they will travel to Europe; if it appears that they will not be allowed to enter, then they will travel somewhere else.
In addition, the vast majority (14 out of 20) of the international destinations chosen by American travelers are in Europe. To make matters worse, these top destinations are not clearly communicating their intentions to open or close their borders, leading to a severe lack of confidence in the minds of people who want to visit and spend money in these countries.
“The number one question our tour operator members ask is about the borders reopening,” said CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Terry Dale. He continued, “In fact, 14 of the top 20 international destinations visited by our members are European, according to our PwC study. It’s imperative to recognize that the recovery of the travel industry is central to the overall health of the global economy and USTOA strongly encourages swift collaboration between governments to develop reciprocal plans to reopen borders. Communication of those plans – based on virus rates, vaccination rates, and health protocols – will boost consumer confidence and encourage travel spending that will impact tens of thousands of jobs in the US and abroad.”
European authorities also agree that the lack of communication is killing the industry. Consumers need some kind of sign that they will be welcome into their travel destinations of choice before they will ever plan their trips there.
“What potential visitors need is a clear indication of when border restrictions are likely to be lifted, and under what conditions. This is business which our members have on their books. The clients who wanted to travel to Europe still want to do so. The risks they pose, which are already very low as compared with the general population in destination, are diminishing by the day. Yet no indication is being given if Europe wants them to return this year,” said Tom Jenkins of ETOA.
The European Tourism Operators Association is an organization that connects tourism companies and advocates to governments on behalf of the companies in the sector. The organization operates worldwide, with the main European offices located in Brussels and London, and with representation in France, Spain, and Italy.