European Travel and Tourism Alliance calls for regional plan to restore freedom of movement by summer

EUROPE. A group of more than 60 public and private travel and tourism organizations – collectively known as the European Tourism Manifesto (ETM) alliance – unveiled a series of joint projects recommendations for EU Member States on how to revive travel and tourism in Europe in time for summer 2021. They involve developing an EU roadmap to restore travel once countries will emerge from national blockages.

The need for a roadmap to ease travel restrictions was highlighted today by the member of ETM Airports International Council (ACI) Europe, who released statistics revealing that in the first two weeks of February, the drop in passenger traffic at Airports EU / EEA / Switzerland / United Kingdom stood at -89% against 2020.

European airlines’ recovery continues to be stifled by lack of progress in establishing meaningful roadmap on current travel restrictions

A European Commission working group dedicated to restoring the free movement of people is to lead the development and implementation of the roadmap, providing regular risk-based assessments and the latest science.

Gasket recommendations established by the ETM were shared with EU governments ahead of two discussions. First, a videoconference of European leaders on February 25-26 and, on March 1, an extraordinary meeting of tourism ministers from across the continent.

The recommendations call on the working group led by the European Commission to monitor the progress and impact of ongoing vaccination campaigns, as well as mitigation measures such as testing and quarantine, based on risk levels within EU and international level.

“The figures we are releasing today lay bare the continuing collapse in air traffic and air connectivity; they also indicate a dying travel and tourism sector ”- Olivier Jankovec, Managing Director of ACI Europe

The authors of the recommendations said: “Our aim is for Europe to regain its place as the world’s leading tourist destination – and in complete safety. As the EU’s vaccination programs progress and protect the most vulnerable citizens, we must prepare together for the resumption of travel. There is simply no time to waste – preparations for a common approach should start now, to restore public confidence by the summer.

“Our recommendations detail a common path towards restoring travel, tourism and freedom of movement on behalf of European citizens. We look forward to working with EU leaders to put this plan into action as soon as possible. “

The latest traffic figures from ACI Europe show that airports in the United Kingdom (-92%), Germany (-90%) and Benelux (-90%) recorded the largest drops in the European market during the first two weeks of February.

Olivier Jankovec: “We are still very far from an effective EU and broader international coordination”

On a more positive note, ACI Europe also revealed that airports in the rest of Europe (covering Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kosovo, North Macedonia , Montenegro, Russia, Serbia and Turkey) saw their passenger traffic shows an early improvement, with a -60% hit in early January improving to –55% in the first two weeks of February.

Meanwhile, the overall passenger volumes across the extended European airport network decreased by -70% last year at -83% in mid-February, showing a clear downward trend, observed ACI Europe. He said that as of February 14, European airports had already lost 182 million passengers since the start of the year, including 157 million were lost by airports in EU / EEA / Switzerland and UK.

Along with the decline in passenger traffic, ACI Europe also noted that February saw a continued decline in air connectivity across Europe. The number of air routes lost within and from Europe increased further to reach 6,914 this month of 6 663 in January and 6,001 last november.

ACI Europe Managing Director Olivier Jankovec said: “The figures we are releasing today lay bare the continuing collapse in air traffic and air connectivity; they also point to a dying travel and tourism sector. As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to accelerate in the coming months, the EU and governments across Europe must start planning for a gradual and coordinated restart of international travel in time for the summer season. “

He added: “The UK is currently working on this through its Global Travel Working Group with a target date of May 17th. We are eager to see the EU follow suit, starting with the establishment of a working group dedicated to restoring the free movement of people, as the travel and tourism sectors have just suggested.

“This should include issuing vaccination and test certificates for travel purposes, as advocated by the Greek government. We are still a long way from effective coordination at EU and international level – yet this is an absolute necessity to save both lives and livelihoods. “

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