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Future of the tourism sector

On 17 March 2021, TRAN Chair Karima Delli, together with members of the Tourism Task Force (TTF) Steering Group, held an informal exchange of views with the Portuguese Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques on the current situation in the tourism sector. The State Secretary outlined three main priorities for the Council Presidency in this sector: (a) A definition of all the requirements that would allow for a safe resumption of travel. While each individual Member State may face a different situation than its neighbours, there is definitely a need to learn from past mistakes in border management. Beyond and alongside the introduction of vaccination, trust between countries needs to be rebuilt. The Commission's proposal on the Digital Green Card will move closer to this goal. (b) Ensure that the appropriate financial instruments are available to the industry. Companies with liquidity problems could face solvency problems in the near future if the right capitalisation tools are not made available. Many companies have had little or no revenue for up to a year. Therefore, the Presidency has called for an extension of the deadlines for the temporary support mechanism. c) Establishing a roadmap for the future of the tourism sector, highlighting the contribution tourism can make to the European Green Digital Agenda. The Presidency is working on a set of conclusions to be adopted at the June European Council.

These include up-skilling and re-skilling workers, enabling the digital transition process, embracing innovation, improving sustainability which can lead to many new opportunities, and working to promote diversity within the tourism ecosystem by promoting tourism opportunities within regions. Task Force Steering Group members confirmed their support for these priorities, as they have been calling for such steps for some time, including the need to accelerate targeted financial support for businesses, as SMEs make up the largest part of the sector, and the urgent need for coordination in reopening borders.

Study: Effects on tourism and transport

In addition, an overall study of a research project carried out by Panteia for the European Parliament on the impact of COVID-19 on the transport and tourism sector and EU and Member State policies was published and presented at the last TRAN meeting in March. The study describes several challenges the industry is facing, but also explains some opportunities for the transport and tourism sector. It also includes some examples of good practices, such as the contactless solution for transport which improves booking and information services, apps to display passenger occupancy, the use of congestion data at borders to inform truck drivers about delays or for the tourism sector - "Save Ravel Stamp", Staycation voucher scheme in Slovenia, aid to tour operators.

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