European Commission Presents Guidelines to Safely Open Travel

European Union flags waving in front of the EU Parliament building in Brussels
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On Wednesday, the European Commission presented a package of comprehensive guidelines and recommendations to help its member states gradually lift travel restrictions and allow tourism business to reopen after months of lockdown measures.

The Commission, it says, is looking to give people the ability, confidence and safety to travel again with the following measures:

  • An overall strategy towards recovery in 2020 and beyond
  • A common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at European Union 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 that 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

As part of the guidelines, the European Commission created a framework providing criteria to safely and gradually restore tourism activities and developing health protocols for hotels and other forms of accommodations; these criteria include epidemiological evidence, sufficient health system capacity being in place for local people and tourists, robust surveillance and monitoring and testing capacity and contact tracing.

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The Commission says the approach taken by member states must also be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires.

The move by the European Commission follows a similar initiative by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which debuted this week its set of global “Safe Travel” protocols for travel in the “new normal.”

According to the European Commission, the European tourism ecosystem—covering a range of activities, such as travel, transport, accommodation, food, recreation on land and water, culture or nature—directly and indirectly contributes close to 10 percent to European Union GDP.

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