On 15 April, the Parliamentary Transport Committee (TRAN) had an exchange of views with DG GROW Director General Kerstin Jorna on the situation of the EU tourism ecosystem after 12 months of COVID-19 crisis and the outlook for the 2021 summer season.
The Commission reiterated that tourism is one of the 14 industrial ecosystems in the EU that has suffered the most. For example, the number of air passengers fell by 89 per cent in March and the number of air routes shrank significantly. Travel agents and tour operators are facing sharp declines in sales, while costs continue to rise. The airlines, short-term car rentals, tour buses, the hospitality industry, trade fairs, theme parks, music festivals and museums are also suffering. On a positive note, rural, nature and domestic tourism have been doing well recently. Many Europeans intend to spend more money on travel.
The Digital Green Certificate proposal adopted on 17 March is one of the measures that could help create an EU framework for the resumption of safe travel this summer. The certificate must be interoperable and secure, contain the same information and thus be accepted by all member states. It will require significant preparatory work by Member States' national authorities. The EU Emergency Support Instrument can be used for these preparations. Such a certificate is also important for the gradual return of international travellers.
Ongoing work to introduce a voluntary EU sanitary label for the hospitality sector is due to be completed in May. It will provide common rules for hygiene protocols and thus provide a degree of confidence for travellers using these accommodations. The Commission will publish an update on industrial strategy at the end of April, which will include the tourism ecosystem as one of 14 industrial ecosystems.
TRAN members actively exchanged views on various topical issues, such as the impact of the pandemic on the whole tourism industry ecosystem, the Digital Green Certificate, access to EU funding for tourism and future trends within the sector. Overall, the main message from members was to do everything possible to avoid a return to the situation of a year ago, whena total lack of coordination between member states led to a patchwork of often incompatible measures that did not serve the cause of tourism and the freedom of travel of EU citizens at all. Members expect the Commission to play an active role in coordinating horizontal measures and to take a leading role in providing support through EU funds. Jorna pointed out that the online guidelines for EU funding will be ready in May, written in an accessible, easy-to-understand way. Applicant companies will first be asked to identify which category they fall into and what they are looking for to better guide them. The next opportunity for TRAN to discuss future actions for the tourism sector will be in May when Commissioner Breton will be heard at the launch of the updated Industrial Strategy.
Related link: ▪ TRAN Press Release