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At the start of 2021, tourist arrivals into Europe plummeted 85%.
That’s not surprising, considering the EU closed its borders last summer to residents from countries having difficulty controlling cases of COVID-19, updated every two weeks.
Now, nearly nine months after the closure, U.S. tourists are still restricted from hopping across the pond. And as summer approaches, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is urging the EU to “set a global example by restarting the sector” in time for one of the traditional peak travel seasons.
The European Commission’s proposed Digital Green Pass — a digital vaccination certificate for Europeans that also displays COVID-19 test results — marked the first step toward a potential restart, along with the recent launch of the Re-Open EU website and mobile app and the UNWTO’s global #RestartTourism campaign.
On the Re-Open website, users can toggle across a color-coded map that classifies each region — green, orange, yellow and grey — based on the epidemiological situation in the area, see the restrictions in place and review the list of countries recently approved for travel. As of press time, member states will be gradually lifting restrictions for residents from Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China (subject to confirmation of reciprocity), along with Hong Kong and Macao.
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But a successful, tangible tourism restart by summer will come only through “strong and coordinated political action” paired with “harmonized protocols and digital solutions to make international travel possible,” according to a statement made today from UNWTO.
“Across Europe, millions of people and businesses are depending on the right decisions to be made so that tourism can restart,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general for UNWTO. “Now more than ever, tourism needs strong political support and joined-up action. Harmonized travel and health rules are essential to restore confidence and restart tourism.”
Now more than ever, tourism needs strong political support and joined-up action. Harmonized travel and health rules are essential to restore confidence and restart tourism.
UNWTO welcomed Margaritis Schinas, vice president of the European Commission, to its headquarters in Madrid this week to formulate a joint path forward. While there, Schinas was briefed on UNWTO’s plans to create the first-ever International Code for the Protection of Tourists; he also agreed to participate in the next meeting of UNWTO’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee, which focuses on resuming safe international travel and restoring tourist confidence.
“With vaccinations and better management of the crisis, there is no doubt this summer will be better than last,” Schinas said. “Reopening borders will have an impact beyond tourism. It will drive Europe’s overall recovery. And Europe will not return on its own. Europe is part of the world and we are ready find a way that the European Green Pass works with solutions provided by countries or groups of countries from outside the EU.”
The DetailsThe United Nations World Tourism Organizationwww.unwto.org