Tourism will need help to become cleaner, safer and more sustainable after the pandemic, according to a cohort of European Parliament members (MEPs) who voted on the matter last month.
MEPs have called for a new European strategy to make tourism cleaner, safer and more sustainable and to get it back on its feet after the pandemic, which also includes a common vaccination certificate.
“With summer just around the corner, we want to avoid past errors and put in place coordinated and uniform EU measures, such as a protocol of tests before departure, a certificate of vaccination, a sanitary seal, to facilitate travel, with no costs for citizens,” Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar, MEP from Portugal and the author of the report calling for the new strategy, said in a statement.
Tourism is one of the sectors affected most by the COVID-19 pandemic. It employs about 27 million people and represents around 10 per cent of the EU’s gross domestic products.
Six million jobs are currently at risk. Europe, the world’s top tourist destination, welcomed 66 per cent fewer international tourists in the first half of 2020 and 97 per cent fewer in the second half.
Continued short-term financial support is essential to the survival of the sector, the report says, urging EU countries to include travel and tourism in their COVID recovery plans.
It also calls for public and private investment in the digitalisation and overall modernisation of the sector, and says countries should consider temporarily reducing VAT rates on travel and tourism services.
To re-establish freedom of movement, the report calls for a common vaccination certificate, which could become an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements once vaccines are available for everyone and there is “sufficient scientific evidence” that vaccinated people do not transmit the virus.
Quarantine should remain the instrument of last resort, according to the report.
It comes after the European Commission proposed a digital ‘green certificate’ in line with the suggestion in the report.
The report also says the pandemic has “shifted consumer preferences” to greener options that bring them closer to nature. It calls for a roadmap to develop more sustainable forms of tourism to reduce the environmental footprint of the sector.
Other proposals in the report include an EU hygiene certification seal, certifying minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards to help restore consumer trust in tourism and travel.
It also calls for a new EU agency for tourism.
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