The Network for the European Private Sector in Tourism (NET) welcomes the decision of EU member states to coordinate their response to the COVID-19 pandemic as regards travel restrictions, testing and vaccinations to stem the spread of the virus, but says further coordination is needed to ensure we have a solid base from which travel and tourism can rebuild.
Travellers are looking for a clear signal when they can travel safely again. And the travel and tourism industry needs to have a perspective to be able to start up business again. This is why NET is calling on Member States and EU policy makers to continue discussions and agree on coordinated measures that are necessary for the successful start of travel and tourism when the epidemiological situation improves. NET thus calls on all decision-makers to:
- Speed up vaccination rates across the continent;
- Adopt a common EU approach to define incidence rates, which could trigger the relaxation of restrictions that would boost public confidence through tracking progress;
- Continue discussion on the common digital passenger locator form for all modes of transportation;
- Build a common system of proof for tests and vaccinations;
- Ensure reliable, affordable and efficient testing to replace quarantine requirements and other restrictions to the free movement of people;
- Continue assessing the use of antigen tests in replacement of PCR tests;
- Announce in a clear, comprehensive and timely way (at least 5 days) information about restrictions and accompanying requirements;
- Offer stability by avoiding contiguously changing travel restrictions;
- Implement a strategy with a long-term view, designed with a perspective of other similar diseases or threats in the future.
All hopes are pinned on the success of these coordinated measures with the aim of restoring confidence and making safe travels possible again.
In the meantime, industry will need continued financial support to help weather the extended business dry-spell.
NET is a network of representative trade associations from the private sector in European tourism. Its members include Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which recently appointed Steve Williams of MSC Cruises as chair; the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA); and the European Tourism Association (ETOA). NET’s purpose is to develop common goals for industry and work with policy-makers and other partners to achieve them. Tourism is central to Europe’s economic prospects. It contributes more than 10% of EU GDP and provides about 12 million jobs, largely in small and medium sized enterprises. Between them, they make up the third largest socio-economic activity in the EU.