NET welcomes the decision of EU heads of state or government to coordinate their response to the COVID-19 pandemic as regards travel restrictions, testing and vaccinations to stem the spread of the virus. Further coordination is needed to ensure we have a solid base from which travel and tourism can rebuild.
Even though the current focus should be on stemming the Covid-19 spread within Europe, we should not lose sight of the day after.
Travellers are looking for a clear signal when they can travel safely again. And the travel and tourism industry need to have a perspective to be able to start up businesses again. This is why NET is calling on Member States and EU policymakers to continue discussions and agree on coordinated measures that are necessary for the successful start of travel and tourism when the epidemiological situation improves. NET thus calls on all decision-makers to:
Speed up vaccination rates across the continent
Adopt a common EU approach to define incidence rates, which could trigger the relaxation of restrictions that would boost public confidence through tracking progress;
Continue discussion on the common digital passenger locator form for all modes of transportation;
Build a common system of proof for tests and vaccinations;
Ensure reliable, affordable and efficient testing to replace quarantine requirements and other restrictions to the free movement of people;
Continue assessing the use of antigen tests in replacement of PCR tests;
Announce in a clear, comprehensive and timely way (at least 5 days) information about restrictions and accompanying requirements;
Offer stability by avoiding contiguously changing travel restrictions;
Implement a strategy with a long-term view, designed with a perspective of other similar diseases or threats in the future.
All hopes are pinned on the success of these coordinated measures with the aim of restoring confidence and making safe travels possible again.
In the meantime, the industry will need continued financial support to help weather the extended business dry-spell.