European Tourism Sector Demands Urgent Supportive Measures

INTERNATIONAL REPORT—The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, a group of more than 50 European public and private organizations, is demanding that the European Commission take urgent measures to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on the sector.

“The effects of the outbreak are already being felt throughout the global economy,” the alliance said in a statement. “Economic activity has dropped, and all evidence points toward a significant downturn in areas affected by the virus. The tourism and travel sector is particularly hit. Millions of jobs are currently at stake, while many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) risk closing their business. Support for tourism must be a priority in the crisis response, recovery plans and actions of affected economies.”

The organization expressed its support for an immediate response presented by the European Commission on March 13th to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. “We call for immediate implementation of these measures, which should be reinforced by additional instruments focused on the tourism sector. Action is required now to strengthen the resilience of the sector in the long run and prepare the ground for a swift recovery from this unprecedented crisis.”

The alliance is calling on the European Commission and national governments to quickly implement the following measures:

  • Temporary state aid for the tourism and travel sector from national governments
  • Fast and easy access to short- and medium-term loans to overcome liquidity shortages, including funds made available by the EU through the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative
  • Fiscal relief (both at source market and destination level), starting with SMEs and extending to economic operators of all sizes
  • Protection of workers from unemployment and loss of income (short-time work schemes, upskilling and reskilling programs) and support for self-employed tourism stakeholders
  • Fast launch of the European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme
  • Deferment of fiscal and social contributions
  • Immediate passing of temporary airport slots waiver
  • Support action for the wider field of culture (arts and heritage)
  • Better coordination between national authorities in terms of alignment of travel advice to affected regions and requirements on travelers returning from those areas

In order to guarantee a full-speed recovery in the aftermath of the crisis, the alliance is also calling for the implementation of the additional following measures:

  • Simplification of visa rules for long-haul markets
  • Reducing or waiving travelers’ taxes (passenger duties, city taxes, etc.)
  • Supporting destinations, by increasing their budgets for promotion, marketing and product development purposes as soon as they are ready to welcome visitors again