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European tourism sector needs better coordination, harmonised travel rules

ZAGREB, Sept 14 (Hina) – The European tourism sector needs better coordination between governments and harmonisation of travel rules to recover from the corona crisis, the director of the Croatian Tourist Board (HTZ), Kristjan Stanicic, told Hina following a general meeting of the European Travel Commission (ETC).

The ETC general meeting was held online on September 7-9, electing the president of Portugal’s national tourism authority, Luis Araujo, as new president of the ETC, and Stanicic as one of the vice-presidents. Stanicic is the first Croatian to be elected to the body since Croatia became its member in 1997.

The European travel and tourism sector has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, insufficiently coordinated travel restrictions, declining traveller confidence and reduced consumer demand, which reached a record low this summer. Hotel occupancy rates in Europe fell by over 60% in July compared with the same month last year, the ETC meeting said.

This was confirmed by data from France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands which saw 40% of 2019’s volumes, while Spain lagged at 22% of last year’s volumes.

Harmonised approach to travel rules without imposing bans or quarantines

Because of the negative trends in the European travel sector caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ETC decided to further intensify its activities, calling on national governments to take a harmonised approach to lifting or reimposing travel restrictions and security measures, without imposing bans or quarantines, Stanicic said.

“Travellers should be aware of the measures long before the date of travel. We need to work on removing ambiguities about border barriers and access to different types of transportation, along with health and security protocols at selected destinations,” he said.

Stanisic added that the ETC called for establishing common criteria and thresholds for determining epidemiological risk, including a common colour-coding system to identify risk areas. These criteria should be evaluated in detail on a regional level, considering relevant geographical factors, particularly islands.

“These criteria and measures should be determined with sufficient detail and based on scientific evidence, because there is no reason to restrict travel to entire countries if only certain regions are affected. This could help rebuild traveller confidence, as well as help the sector to recover and to protect jobs and businesses,” Stanicic said.

He said that the focus of the ETC’s activities next year would be on the unity of European destinations in the post-crisis recovery of the European travel sector and its transformation towards a responsible, sustainable, digital and resilient tourist industry.

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