Europe’s Response to a Vacation with COVID-19

It’s been a little over four months since Covid-19 entered our lives, what at first should have been a few weeks turned into a few months of quarantine. That left a scar that probably won’t heal any time soon, that’s why governments across Europe have decided to start creating a brand new normal adapted to the current situation. In this article, we will be talking about one of the worst consequences of the pandemic that countries all around Europe are dealing with.

The European Union warned that the coronavirus crisis is seriously affecting tourism and the bloc’s internal markets commissioner asked for this sector to be the first to receive economic assistance. Throughout Europe the crisis in the tourism sector is evident: deserted are the squares of Brussels, the Colosseum in Rome, the gondolas of Venice. There are no passengers at the airports or bathers on the beaches. Airlines and hotels are in crisis.

Commissioner Thierry Breton estimated that the sector could suffer a 70% contraction and will be one of the last to recover as the 27-nation bloc appears to be facing its sharpest challenge since its inception. We must not forget that Europe is not the only one to suffer such hardship; The same happens in countries like South Africa and Egypt. However, Breton pointed out that tourism in Europe comprises half of all world tourism.

Based on data from international organizations and tourism associations, Breton estimated that “we are facing really amazing figures”, adding that the travel and tourism industry is about to lose between 275,000 million and 400,000 million euros (between 300,000 million and 435,000 million of dollars) due to the pandemic. He estimated that the international travel sector will contract by 30% this year and the tourism sector between 45% and 70%.

One factor that aggravates the situation is that many of the countries most affected by the coronavirus are also among the most dependent on tourism to sustain their economies, such as Italy and Spain. On the contrary, in some countries little dependent on this sector, an increase in national tourism has been observed. Countries like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands since people prefer not to take risks even if they do not spend a vacation like the ones they are used to.

Because of this, the European Union took steps to try to soften the blow. Since May companies and workers in the tourism sector are benefiting from these measures, which include financial support, tax exemptions, and relaxation of state rules, as well as the temporary suspension of the rules applicable to landing strips and take off for airlines. The EU has also adapted the guidelines on passenger rights and the package travel directive.

It also facilitated the repatriation, through the EU civil protection mechanism, of tens of thousands of European citizens who were stranded in countries other than their origin or residence. EU measures in support of tourism complement those already taken at a national level.

The good news is that due to the tourist crisis there are countries that offer ease to travelers who decide to travel there. The Sicilian regional government will allocate 75 million euros to reduce travel costs for both national and foreign tourists. This promotion offers to pay for one of every three nights you spend on the island, as well as free tickets to museums and archaeological sites. According to British media The Sun, the offer also includes a discount of up to 50% on visitors’ plane tickets.

The Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, announced a reduction in transport taxes, including foreign flights. Unfortunately according to the Embassy of Mexico in Greece, currently only permanent residents of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Algeria, Australia, Georgia, Japan, Canada, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea are allowed. , Rwanda, Uruguay, Thailand, and Tunisia.

And last but not least although the Bulgarian government will not pay for flights or accommodation, The Sun reports that tourists will have free access to 20 beaches on the Black Sea coast. Similarly, the use of sun loungers, umbrellas, or tables will not be charged during your stay. These savings are expected to encourage tourism after the health contingency.

In conclusion, although it is true that the last few months have been quite hard, the best we can do is look ahead and try to focus on improving our future day by day.