Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Tourism and transport: Commission’s guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism in 2020 and beyond

Tourism and transport: Commission’s guidance on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe’s tourism in 2020 and beyond
Published on: 13/05/2020
Today, the Commission presents a package of guidelines and recommendations to help EU countries gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen, after months of lockdown, while respecting necessary health precautions.

The Commission’s guidance aims to offer people the chance to get some well-needed rest, relaxation and fresh air. As soon as the health situation allows, people should be able to catch up with friends and family, in their own EU country or across borders, with all the safety and precautionary measures needed in place.

The package also aims to help the EU tourism sector recover from the pandemic, by supporting businesses and ensuring that Europe continues to be the number one destination for visitors.

The Commission’s Tourism and Transport package includes

  • An overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond
  • A common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way
  • A framework to support the gradual re-establishment of transport whilst ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel
  • A recommendation which aims to make travel vouchers an attractive alternative to cash reimbursement for consumers
  • Criteria for restoring tourism activities safely and gradually and for developing health protocols for hospitality establishments such as hotels

For tourism businesses

The Commission aims to support Europe's tourism sector by

  • Ensuring liquidity for tourism businesses, in particular SMEs, through:
    • Flexibility under State aid rules allowing Member States to introduce schemes, such as guarantee schemes for vouchers and further liquidity schemes, to support companies in the transport and travel sectors and to ensure that reimbursement claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic are satisfied. The schemes for vouchers can be approved by the Commission very rapidly, upon notification by the Member State concerned.
    • EU funding: EU continues providing immediate liquidity to businesses affected by the crisis through the Coronavirus Response Instrument Initiative, under shared management with Member States. In addition, the Commission has made available up to €8 billion in financing for 100,000 small businesses hit by the crisis, with the European Investment Fund.
  • Saving jobs with up to €100 billion in financial relief from the SURE programme: 

The SURE programme helps Member States cover the costs of national short-time work schemes and similar measures allowing companies to safeguard jobs. The Commission also supports partnerships between employment services, social partners and companies to facilitate reskilling, especially for seasonal workers.

  • Connecting citizens to local tourism offer, promoting local attractions and tourism and Europe as a safe tourist destination:

The Commission will work with Member States to promote a patronage voucher system under which customers can support their favourite hotels or restaurants. The Commission will also promote pan-European communication campaigns featuring Europe as a number one tourist destination. 

To complement short-term measures, the Commission will continue to work with Member States to promote sustainable tourism in line with the European Green Deal and encourage a digital transformation of tourism services to offer more choice, better allocation of resources and new ways of managing travel and tourist flows.

The Commission will organise a European tourism convention with EU institutions, the industry, regions, cities and other stakeholders to jointly build the future of a sustainable, innovative and resilient European tourism ecosystem – the ‘European Agenda for Tourism 2050'.

Members of the College said:

Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: "Tourism is vital to the Single Market and its four freedoms and a key contributor to the EU's economic, social and cultural way of life. It has also been deeply impacted by the measures needed to contain COVID-19. As our Member States gradually lift restrictive measures, we are putting in place the foundations for rebooting the tourism eco-system and Single Market in a safe, proportionate way that will prevent the resurgence of the virus within the EU, whilst safeguarding our way of life.”

Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Millions of SMEs and family -run businesses working in accommodation, restaurants, passenger transport and travel agencies risk bankruptcies and job losses – they urgently need to go back to work. We are helping European tourism get back on track while staying healthy and safe. Today we propose a common European approach to managing what will remain a difficult 2020 summer season, while preparing for a more sustainable and digital tourism ecosystem in the future.”

Background

Europe is home to a vibrant tourism ecosystem. Travel, transport, accommodation, food, recreation or culture, contribute to almost 10% of EU GDP and provide a key source of employment and income in numerous European regions. 267 million Europeans (62% of the population) make at least one private leisure trip per year and 78% of Europeans spend their holidays in their home country or another EU country.

The tourism ecosystem has also been one of the most affected by the heavy restrictions on movement and travel imposed in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) foresees a 20% to 30% reduction in international arrivals, amounting to losses of between €280 and €420 billion for the travel industry worldwide. In Europe, the summer is a crucial season for the industry, bringing €150 billion on average to the. European tourism sector, with 360 million arrivals.

Today's package follows the pathway set by the Joint European Roadmap published by the Commission on 14 April in cooperation with the European Council. The Roadmap provided a gradual approach to phasing-out containment measures introduced due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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