Tourism is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Read more on how the EU is protecting businesses, workers and passengers.
Travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic have decimated the tourism industry, a major player in the EU economy. Revenue is expected to drop 50% for hotels and restaurants, 70% for tour operators and travel agencies and 90% for cruises and airlines. Europe accounts for half of the world’s tourist arrivals and the situation is particularly hard for European countries that are dependent on tourism, such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, as of 20 April, 100% of world tourist destinations had introduced temporary travel restrictions in response to the outbreak, 83% of which had already been in place for four or more weeks. No country has so far loosened those restrictions.
Many travellers have struggled to return home, while tourism businesses are facing severe liquidity issues, as there are very few new bookings and a large number of claims for refunds following cancellations. Air carriers particularly are under unprecedented pressure.
Supporting the tourism industry through the crisis
Businesses and workers from the tourism sector already benefit from EU measures taken in response to the Covid-19 crisis, including liquidity support, fiscal relief and an easing of state aid rules, as well as the temporary suspension of EU rules on airport slots to avoid empty flights.
To protect travellers, the EU has updated the guidelines on passenger rights and the package travel directive. It has also facilitated the repatriation of tens of thousands of Europeans stranded abroad, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. EU measures to support the tourism industry complement and reinforce measures taken at national level.
The EU”s tourism sector
- Accounts for 10-11% of the EU’s gross domestic products
- Provides 12% of employment in the EU
- Is composed of nearly three million businesses, 90% of which are small and medium-sized enterprises
Parliament asks for more action to save the tourism industry
The EU should develop a prevention and management mechanism to protect workers and companies in the tourism sector and ensure passenger safety, MEPs said in a resolution adopted on 17 April.
Parliament’s transport and tourism committee has called for a rescue action plan for the tourism sector.