ISTO Europe director, Luc Gobin, has summarised the main measures of the European Commission in order to help relaunch tourism businesses.
The Commission aims to support Europe's tourism sector by:
- Ensuring liquidity for tourism businesses, in particular SMEs, through:
o Flexibility under State aid rules allowing Member States to introduce schemes, such as guarantee schemes for vouchers and further liquidity schemes, to support companies in the transport and travel sectors and to ensure that reimbursement claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic are satisfied. The schemes for vouchers can be approved by the Commission very rapidly, upon notification by the Member State concerned.
o EU funding: EU continues providing immediate liquidity to businesses affected by the crisis through the Coronavirus Response Instrument Initiative, under shared management with Member States. In addition, the Commission has made available up to €8 billion in financing for 100,000 small businesses hit by the crisis, with the European Investment Fund.
- Saving jobs with up to €100 billion in financial relief from the SURE programme:
The SURE programme helps Member States cover the costs of national short-time work schemes and similar measures allowing companies to safeguard jobs. The Commission also supports partnerships between employment services, social partners and companies to facilitate reskilling, especially for seasonal workers.
- Connecting citizens to local tourism offer, promoting local attractions and tourism and Europe as a safe tourist destination:
The Commission will work with Member States to promote a patronage voucher system under which customers can support their favourite hotels or restaurants. The Commission will also promote pan-European communication campaigns featuring Europe as a number one tourist destination.
To complement short-term measures, the Commission will continue to work with Member States to promote sustainable tourism in line with the European Green Deal and encourage a digital transformation of tourism services to offer more choices, better allocation of resources and new ways of managing travel and tourist flows.
The Commission will organise an European tourism convention with EU institutions, the industry, regions, cities and other stakeholders to jointly build the future of a sustainable, innovative and resilient European tourism ecosystem – the ‘European Agenda for Tourism 2050'.
Members of the College said:
Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: "Tourism is vital to the Single Market and its four freedoms and a key contributor to the EU's economic, social and cultural way of life. It has also been deeply impacted by the measures needed to contain COVID-19. As our Member States gradually lift restrictive measures, we are putting in place the foundations for rebooting the tourism eco-system and Single Market in a safe, proportionate way that will prevent the resurgence of the virus within the EU, whilst safeguarding our way of life.”
Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “Millions of SMEs and family-run businesses working in accommodation, restaurants, passenger transport and travel agencies risk bankruptcies and job losses – they urgently need to go back to work. We are helping European tourism get back on track while staying healthy and safe. Today we propose a common European approach to managing what will remain a difficult 2020 summer season, while preparing for a more sustainable and digital tourism ecosystem in the future.”
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “We know how much European citizens are looking forward to summer and to travel. Their huge sacrifices over the past months will make a cautious and gradual reopening possible - for now. But deconfinement and tourism will not be risk free as long as the virus circulates among us. We need to maintain vigilance, physical distancing and rigorous health precautions across the whole tourism and transport ecosystem to prevent further outbreaks as much as possible. We will not allow our efforts to be lost.”
Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, said: “European consumers can be reassured: The Commission will not downgrade their EU rights for reimbursement for cancelled travel. We recommend, however, making vouchers more attractive for those who chose this option. In the meantime, freedom of movement is the right European citizens cherish most. It is important to restore this right as soon as the circumstances allow it.”
Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, said: “We aim to create safe conditions in every mode of transport, to the extent possible, both for people traveling and transport workers. As we re-establish connectivity, these guidelines will provide authorities and stakeholders a standard framework. Our priority is to restore mobility as soon as possible, but only with clear provisions for safety and health.”
Europe is home to a vibrant tourism ecosystem. Travel, transport, accommodation, food, recreation or culture, contribute to almost 10% of EU GDP and provide a key source of employment and income in numerous European regions. 267 million Europeans (62% of the population) make at least one private leisure trip per year and 78% of Europeans spend their holidays in their home country or another EU country.
The tourism ecosystem has also been one of the most affected by the heavy restrictions on movement and travel imposed in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak. The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) foresees a 60% to 80% reduction in international arrivals, amounting to losses of between €840 and €1.100 billion in export revenues worldwide. In Europe, the summer is a crucial season for tourism: during an average summer season (June-August) residents of the EU make 385 million tourism trips and spend €190 billion.
Today's package follows the pathway set by the Joint European Roadmap published by the Commission on 14 April in cooperation with the European Council. The Roadmap provided a gradual approach to phasing-out containment measures introduced due to the coronavirus outbreak.
FOR MORE INFORMATION :
Factsheet: The EU helps reboot Europe's Tourism