In a joint effort, the European Travel Commission (ETC), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and “a number of key travel stakeholders” are once again urging European Union and Schengen Member States to coordinate their responses to Covid-19 and create a more uniform set of policies regarding travel restrictions, as well as to reconsider adding new travel restrictions at all.
The ETC and WTTC’s message comes via an announcement published by the ETC.
The announcement makes the case that imposing travel restrictions, bans, and border closures do not reduce the spread of Covid-19 in any significant measurable way, a claim that is openly backed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is now acknowledging that EU travel restrictions have not had a significant impact on reducing virus transmission, hospitalisations, or deaths,” the announcement reads.
A number of Member States, such as France for example, continue to add more restrictions for travel and tourism to the once-bustling tourism hub. According to the ECDC, these travel restrictions not only do not work, but are largely arbitrary.
Although border closures and further travel restrictions will not stop Covid, they will negatively impact the economy and individuals participating in the economy in a big way.
“WTTC and ETC stress that measures aiming at restricting border crossing would not have any health benefits but could result in a huge economic impact to the region,” the announcement reads.
According to the announcement, based on the latest WTTC research, the European economy stands to lose 900,000 jobs and €35 billion if travel restrictions are imposed again this Winter. These numbers are projections for 2021 before the turn of the New Year, which will end up seeing further tremendous losses in 2022.
“According to latest WTTC research, up to 900,000 jobs are at risk across the EU’s Travel & Tourism sector this year if travel restrictions are reimposed this winter. Furthermore, governments across the EU could see up to €35 billion wiped from the sector’s contribution to the economy before the end of 2021 if severe travel restrictions come back into force,” the announcement continues.
The continuous rollut of new travel restricitons, bans, and arbitrary rules made by Member States has undermined the integrity of the Union in such a large way that third country nationals are not looking to come to Europe.
Non-uniform policies that shift every two-to-four weeks has resulted in travelers not knowing if they will be allowed to enter at the time of their planned trips. This has caused mass amount of uncertainty and has resulted in traveling to Europe for business and tourism an extremely unattractive option for people worldwide, further undermining the European Union’s stated economic and social goals.
The solution laid out by the ETC and WTTC include first unifying their rules and policies, which is something that has been called for by these organizations and more since mid-2020.
“We urgently need to restore the confidence to travel and not create more uncertainty. It is vital we have a properly coordinated response across the EU which both businesses and travellers can understand,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO.
The next step would be to listen to the ECDC’s research that reveals that their restrictions have not worked and act accordingly, instead of doubling-down on them.
Finally, Member States should act in a way that allows them and prospective travelers to use the tools given to them to finally reopen for business and tourism travel. This includes using the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate and recognizing vaccination rates in their own countries.
“The vaccination rollout across the EU is among the best in the world with 65% of the population now fully vaccinated. We cannot afford to let all the hard-earned progress made this year to be reversed. This will have catastrophic consequences for jobs and livelihoods. While we fully recognise that protecting public health is paramount, we urge all EU Member states to continue using the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate, which has successfully allowed fully-vaccinated people to travel safely and freely,” Simpson concluded.