ETC Calls for Unified Action, Releases Travel Statistics

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel has suffered dramatically due to worldwide shutdowns and travel restrictions put into place by nearly every country.

The European Travel Commission (ETC) published an announcement on 13 August 2020 outlining how devastating the worldwide shutdowns have been, and how they have hit the European tourism sector particularly hard.

According to the announcement, there could be an extreme lack of confidence among travelers wanting to come to Europe due to travelers not knowing if they can get transportation there or if they will be allowed in once they arrive. According to the announcement, it could also be a sign of a weakening interest in coming to Europe due to blanket travel restrictions and European Authorities shutting down travel for so long.

Global searches for traveling to Europe have declined 67% since July 2019, and air bookings to Europe have declined 72% since July 2019, according to the ETC announcement citing data from Sojern, a company that tracks international travel statistics.

“Global searches and air bookings to Europe are also well below last year’s levels for July at -67% and -72% respectively, with Sojern’s data clearly showing that this downward trend has been almost flatlining since May. Searches from overseas consumers for travel to Europe declined by 4% between the first and the last week of July, which may be taken, partially, as a signal of weakening interest. This trend is a further illustration that the rebound of long-haul travel will take considerable time, as well as concerted effort from industry and regulators alike,” the announcement reads.

In the same publication, the ETC called for EU and Schengen Member States to make a concerted effort towards COVID-19 recovery.

“The European Travel Commission (ETC) is calling on EU governments to better coordinate their COVID-19 recovery efforts by adopting a harmonised approach to lifting or reinstalling restrictions and safety measures, as tourism confidence plummets to a record low across the continent,” the announcement reads.

The ETC also called for restrictions to be localized and science-based, taking into account the epidemiological situation in a more localized area and avoiding large blanket policies for restrictions. For example, when imposing a travel ban or mandatory quarantine, restrictions should be based on the epidemiological situation in a local area in a country, instead of imposing restrictions nationals of an entire country.

“Taking into account the latest epidemiological developments across Europe, ETC also insists that any potential new measures should be local and science-based, avoiding imposing blanket country bans or quarantines, and should be communicated to travellers well before their travel dates,” the announcement reads.

Travel to the EU and Schengen Area has taken a dramatic downturn in recent months from all kinds of travelers and has been largely reduced to only those with an “essential purpose or need.”

However, if Member States follow the ETC’s guidance, travel might be normalized sooner rather than later. It has not yet been announced by any specific Member States or European authorities whether or not they will be considering the ETC’s guidance.

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