European Union plots to restart travel and kickstart tourism

Europe is looking at ways to boost its tourism industry. Photo: Getty

The EU is looking at ways to lift border restrictions and kickstart the bloc’s all important tourism industry, a document seen by Reuters has revealed.

According to the strategy document titled “Europe needs a break,” the European Commission wants member states to gradually find ways to remove internal border checks where the health situation has improved. 

Tourism generates €150bn (£132.64) from June to August and is one of the bloc’s biggest sectors, bringing in a tenth of the European Union’s total economic output.

The global outbreak has grounded travel and borders are expected to be shut for non-essential travel until at least mid-June. No decision has yet been made as to what happens after that date.

READ MORE: British Airways owner hopes to revive flights at 50% capacity by July

“Our tourism industry is in grave trouble,” the document says, adding that 6.4 million jobs could be lost in the industry.

Other measures being considered to help boost tourism include states guaranteeing vouchers for travel cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany and other member states have called for a suspension of EU rules that force cash-drained airlines industry to offer full refunds for cancelled flights and visits instead of vouchers for future travel. 

The document says: “To provide incentives for passengers and travellers to accept vouchers instead of reimbursement, vouchers should be protected against insolvency of the issuer and remain refundable by the end of their validity if not redeemed.

READ MORE: Virgin Atlantic to slash more than 3,000 jobs as air travel collapse

“Insolvency protection needs to be assured at the national level.” 

But while internal EU travel restrictions may be lifted this summer, international travel to and from the bloc looks likely to remain closed for some time.

French President Emmanuel Macron has already discussed putting a freeze on international travel into Europe through September, especially with health officials now concerned about a second wave of the virus hitting later this Autumn.

Countries across the globe have enacted stringent restrictions on non-essential travel.