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Andrew Young looks at “The future of European tourism in the shadow of the covid-19 pandemic?” in the following article below.
What future has European tourismin the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic?
The EU Tourism and Transport Package
On 13 May 2020 the European Commission published a package of guidelines and recommendations designed to help member states gradually relax current travel restrictions and allow tourism businesses to reopen after the current lockdown while at the same time respecting necessary health precautions.
The UK is, of course, no longer an EU member and this package is advisory only, but it is likely to have a major impact on UK travel businesses wishing to send clients to EU holiday destinations and on British citizens wanting to go on holiday to Europe this year.
The UK’s current position
The EU’s determination to plan for the future of Europeantourism beyond the current pandemic is in striking contrast to recent public statementsby the UK Government. On 12 May 2020 the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said that summer holidays abroad were unlikely this year be-cause of the new ‘reality of life’dictated by social distancing. This commentwas followed up by the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who said on 13 May 2020 that the UK Government was advising against all non–essential foreign travel and that anyone booking a trip in July or August this year would be ‘taking a chance’ because of the lockdown across Europe. He added that there was little sign of an immediate change, speaking on the same day as the EU Commission published its Tourism Package!
Certainly, the UK travel market is currently at a standstill. TUI has cancelled all breaks until 14 June butplans to restart most holidays in July. Jet 2 plans to resume flights and holidays from 17 June and Ryanair has announcedits intention to operate 1000 flights per day from 1stJuly. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on 14 May 2020,a TUI representative saidthat the company had sold about 1/3 of their summer holidays, which must be far below normal sales for this timein the sea-son. Meanwhile, BA announced that it hadgiven cash refunds on 921,000 bookings and vouch-ers for another 346,000 bookings.Clearly, any resumption of foreign holidays will depend on a relaxation of current restrictions by both the EU and the UK Government.
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