The industry and travellers must accept the failure to coordinate the resumption of travel and tourism across Europe as “the price” of restarting, say senior figures in the sector.
The EU recommended a relaxation of internal border restrictions by member states from June 15 and opening of external borders to travel from a list of non-EU countries from July 1. But several EU states retain quarantine or other restrictions.
Rita Marques, secretary of state for tourism in Portugal, said: “The conditions that apply in each EU member state are really different.”
“Each member state has been deciding whatever they want based on different criteria. They don’t have a common approach.”
Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, said: “This is the price – a reopening in different stages.”
Marques warned last month: “A co-ordinated approach is not happening and member states are negotiating among themselves.”
But this week she told a virtual Destination Summit hosted by the Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council and marketing agency Finn Partners: “We have to cope with that. We have a huge challenge ahead, but it’s also a big opportunity.”
The Council of the European Union has recommended a list of just 14 non-EU countries to which EU states should open their borders from July 1, plus China if it makes reciprocal arrangements.
The list contains fewer countries than the UK quarantine-free list of destinations, which came in for considerable criticism in Britain.
However, Santander insisted: “Let me praise the work of the EC in these last months. I’ve never seen in Brussels such a good response, even when the EU does not have direct competence.
“There has been so much support, first of all financially – 22% of the [EU] funding dedicated to the recovery from this crisis is going to be dedicated to tourism.”
Santander said: “We were working to get to a list of 30 countries permitted to travel to the EU. It’s not easy.”
But he added: “There has not been a controversy. In the case of China, obviously the EU would need reciprocity to open to China and this is not given.
“The decision of not opening to the US is valid. Nobody has complained about that.
“Now it is the decision of each member state to open or not. Each country has its own diplomatic relations, its own trading relations, but also its own health protocols. Every state is analysing its own circumstances.
“The countries which are not so affected want to avoid going back to square one because that could be a disaster, to restart from zero.”
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