As reported by HrTurizam, organizations say the sector cannot afford inconsistent and ever-changing national responses to the pandemic such as freedom of movement restrictions, and a common EU approach is the only solution to rescue Europe’s faltering travel and tourism sector.
The WTTC and ETC state that the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) now acknowledges that travel restrictions in the EU have not had a significant impact on reducing virus transmission, hospitalizations, or deaths. They also stress that measures aimed at restricting border crossings would not have any health benefits, but could result in a major economic impact on the region.
According to the latest WTTC survey, up to 900,000 jobs are at risk across the EU travel and tourism sector this year if travel restrictions are reintroduced this winter. Furthermore, governments across the EU could lose up to €35 billion from the sector’s contribution to the economy before the end of 2021 if strict travel and freedom of movement restrictions come into force.
We urgently need to restore confidence to travel, not create even more uncertainty, says Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC, adding that it is vital that we have a properly coordinated EU-wide response that both companies and travelers can understand.
“The introduction of vaccination across the EU is among the best in the world with 65% of the population now fully vaccinated. We cannot afford to undo all the hard-earned progress made this year. This will have catastrophic consequences for jobs and livelihoods. While we fully recognize that public health is paramount, we call on all EU Member States to continue to use the EU’s digital COVID certification, which has successfully enabled fully vaccinated people to travel safely and freely. ”
Luís Araújo, President of the ETC, pointed out that the colder months are approaching and some European countries are facing a worsening epidemiological situation. “We call on EU governments to work together to ensure freedom of movement across Europe. We must avoid any further uncertainty or fragmentation. With a high vaccination rate, EU COVID certification, and strict safety protocols in place, safe travel is absolutely possible. On the eve of the long-awaited holiday season, EU citizens need clear and coherent rules,” says Araújo.
Last year, a WTTC survey found that more than two million jobs in travel and tourism were lost across the EU, and its latest survey reveals that if broad freedom of movement restrictions are introduced in 2022, another three million jobs would be at stake next year.
After 18 months in which economies around the world have already been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, WTTC research also shows that if punitive restrictions remain in place for most of next year, more than 143 billion euros could be lost from the EU economy.
Finally, the WTTC and ETC stress that only a coordinated approach will save millions and financial resources for the lives of those dependent on the tourism sector.
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