European travel industry desperate as Covid skyrockets


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Workers carry scaffolding on “Paradise” beach on the Greek Cycladic island of Mykonos in 2020. The island is traditionally populated by wealthy foreigners but turned into a ghost island last year.

ARIS MESSINIS | AFP | Getty Images

During the Covid pandemic, perhaps no other industry has been hit harder than the global travel and tourism sector, with planes grounded, resorts closed and carefree vacations a distant memory for most of us. ‘between us.

Some countries in Europe – Greece, Spain and Portugal, for example – rely on tourism to drive economic growth with the prosperity of thousands of businesses, livelihoods and communities linked to success or success. failure of the season.

As Covid vaccines rolled out across Europe, hopes were high for a rebound in summer tourism.

Instead, the season looks very uncertain as the Delta variant increases in Europe, causing a plethora of varying rules and restrictions, traffic light systems designating the country’s risk as well as possible quarantines and requirements for entry for vaccines.

Fourth wave?

Traveling in Europe these days is certainly not for the faint of heart in more than one way. The rate of Covid infection has increased across the region as the highly infectious delta variant swept the world.

As with the previous alpha variant, which Delta has now usurped, the UK was sort of a harbinger of what the rest of Europe could expect. Britain saw a new wave of Covid earlier this year caused by the alpha variant and is now seeing another wave with delta.

Despite efforts on the continent to contain the variant, inevitable spread has taken place, with the strain now accounting for the majority of new infections from country to country.

The Netherlands and Spain have seen sharp increases in the number of cases, largely attributed to the nightlife sector after the two countries reopened their nightclubs in late June, only to reverse the tide two weeks later. France said it was entering a fourth wave of the pandemic earlier this week, with government spokesman Gabriel Attal sounding the alarm.

“We have entered a fourth wave. The dynamics of the epidemic are extremely strong. We are seeing a wave that is faster and higher than any previous one,” Atta; said Monday. “The incidence rate continues to explode.… An increase so big, so sudden, we haven’t seen that since the start of the pandemic.”

Tourism and airline stocks were beaten earlier in the week when global markets dipped sharply amid renewed fears for the global recovery. European budget airlines EasyJet and Ryanair were among the stocks that saw steep declines. EasyJet shares, for example, were trading at 842.20 pence on Friday, but plunged to 758.20 pence early in the afternoon on Monday.

EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren told CNBC on Tuesday that the travel industry was facing an “extraordinarily difficult” situation, but vaccination programs in Europe were key to reopening. Data show that two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech University or AstraZeneca-Oxford are effective against the delta variant and reduce the risk of hospitalization and death.

“We have always known that [the recovery] was not going to be a straight line, “Lundgren told CNBC’s” Squawk Box Europe. “But we’re seeing the restrictions lifted. But it is absolutely true that when you open up companies and communities there is also an increase in infections. The question is to ensure that vaccinations break the link between [infection and] serious hospitalizations and deaths, and fortunately, it appears to be the case. ”

Complex journey

Anyone making last-minute plans for a vacation in Europe this year should prepare for an often confusing, complex and rather stressful experience – and that’s before you even get off the plane.

Take go to Greece from UK – of vacations 3.4 million Britons took in 2019, official statistics show – as a general example of the complexity of going on vacation in these troubled times:

Greece allows visitors from UK if they can provide proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test, carried out within 72 hours of arrival in the country or proof of a negative rapid antigen test performed by an authorized laboratory within 48 hours of the scheduled flight; or proof of two completed doses of a Covid vaccine at least 14 days before travel.

Before even arriving in Greece, however, you must complete a passenger locator form no later than 11.59pm (local time) the day before your arrival stating your vaccination status, holiday address and loved ones. Then, before returning to the UK, holidaymakers must perform a PCR test and complete another passenger locator form, then within two days of returning to the UK, perform another PCR test or quarantine for 10 days.

All of this, and Greece is actually one of the easiest places to go on vacation this year.

Like its European colleagues, Greece has not escaped the somewhat inevitable rise in Covid cases as the economy (particularly the island’s night economy) has opened up. Still, the daily number of cases seems low compared to, say, France or the UK. Greece on Wednesday reported 2,972 new cases, 19 of which were traced after checks at the country’s borders.

Peak season at Paliouri beach, Greece: This image was taken in 2017, which was considered one of the best performing summers in terms of visitor arrivals.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Wolfango Piccoli, co-chairman of the risk consultancy firm Teneo Intelligence, noted on Wednesday that the resurgence of Covid in Greece “poses new challenges, especially with regard to another meager tourist season and the economic consequences that will follow”, circumstances which put pressure on Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mitsotakis had hoped to leave the pandemic behind this summer as his center-right government reached the middle of its four-year term. It aimed to oversee improved tourism revenues, the launch of Greece’s stimulus package and a back to However, Covid-19 numbers have risen dramatically in recent weeks and the vital tourism sector is already pushing for more state support in the fall amid fears more disappointing visitor numbers this fall. year, ”noted Piccoli.

As the delta variant gradually becomes more dominant, Piccoli noted that Greece faces a conundrum because “the number of daily vaccinations has slowed this month to less than 100,000 despite the government offering Greeks between the ages of 18 and 25 years an incentive of 150 euros ($ 177) to get vaccinated. “

So far, he said, only around 120,000 Greeks out of around 980,000 Greeks in this age group have been vaccinated.

Immunization levels in the general population have reached nearly 52% for at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 44% for full vaccination, Piccoli noted, adding that “the recent slower adoption has raised doubts as to whether if the government can meet its goal of immunizing 70-75% of the adult population by the end of the summer. “

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