Amid many previous calls for a unified approach to border closures and re-openings, the European Parliament has officially addressed the need for a unified approach for the sole purpose of just saving the European Travel and Tourism sector of the economy, according to a press released published by the Parliament.
The Members of Parliament’s Tourism Task Force, charged with specializing in the handling of affairs in the travel and tourism sector, has stated that the industry immediately requires the following:
- “Direct and dedicated financial support;”
- “Consistent and transparent criteria to assess the risks across the EU;”
- “EU-level coordination of travel restrictions, hygiene and health protocols;”
- “A clear path towards a genuine EU policy on sustainable tourism.”
The Task Force has proposed using the EU’s “European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency,” known in short as SURE. This could unlock up to a €300 million budget to directly support businesses that have suffered greatly in the past several months amid the COVID-19 crisis; this move would be intended to give the travel and tourism sector a fair chance at survival, as they have been forced to shut down by governing bodies and left with little or no support from them.
“A €300 million budget line to implement a common vision for sustainable tourism over the next seven years is not too much to ask. It is essential, to make sure that this economic sector will have a chance to get back on its feet after months of stagnation and so that we can shape it to become more sustainable,” the press release reads.
According to the Task Force, an extremely large number of people are employed in the travel and tourism industry, which accounts for very large portions of some Member States’ Gros Domestic Product (GDP). There are more than 22 million Europeans who are employed in the industry, and it accounts for 4.3% to 25% of GDP, depending on which Member State is being analyzed.
With complete shutdowns of the entire industry having happened for several months now, according to the Task Force, hundreds of thousands of businesses in the industry might not survive until 2021.
“The tourism sector, that employs 22 million people in Europe, is on the verge of collapse. This is no small threat: depending on the country, tourism accounts from 4.3% to 25% of the GDP. As things stand, hundreds of thousands of SMEs will not survive until the end of this year,” the press release reads.
The complete lack of coordination among Member States and the broader EU governing bodies has created a lack of confidence in the EU’s rules and regulations regarding travel to the continent, which has resulted in an unwillingness for residents of third countries to visit, according to the press release.
“Even when travelling is partially possible, the wide array of rules make it extremely difficult. People are confused and have no guarantees that their planned trips can and will go ahead,” the press release reads.
The world has been in crisis for more than 6 months, leading to a broader financial crisis, which has hit certain industries such as the travel and tourism industry particularly hard.
There have been “common approach” plans laid out by governing EU bodies, however, none of them have been implemented as Member States are mostly unwilling to coordinate with each other over how to handle entrants and tourism.
Many Member States are still barring entry for nationals of each other; it is unknown as of writing this article if or when Member States will finally adopt a common approach to travel and tourism to keep the entire industry from collapsing.