The FINANCIAL — “Only with strong and coordinated political action can Europe reopen to tourism in time for the peak summer season”, World Tourism Organization said in its latest statement. It again stressed the importance of collaboration as it welcomed European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas to Madrid for a high-level meeting focused on the joined-up response to the ongoing crisis, and on advancing plans for tourism’s vital restart.
Global: The global Covid death toll has passed the grim tally of 2.75 million with a figure of 2,755,540 according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, infections have passed 125.5 million worldwide.
US: Covid -19 infections have passed 30 million. Meanwhile, the US coronavirus death toll is 546,822. Covid cases in the US are rising again, reversing course after months of decline and threatening another setback in the return to normality. The seven-day average of new cases jumped to 57,695 Wednesday, 9.5% above the prior week, marking the biggest increase since 12 January, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
As the latest data provided by UNWTO shows an 85% fall in tourist arrivals across Europe at the start of 2021, UNWTO has noted Europe can set a global example by restarting the sector. Given tourism’s huge socio-economic importance, the benefits that will accompany the return of tourism in time for the peak European season will be felt well outside of the sector itself. This heightened relevance of tourism was reflected in the visit of the highest-level European Union delegation to UNWTO headquarters to date. Meeting with the Vice-President, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili further emphasised the need for harmonized protocols and digital solutions to make safe international travel possible.
UNWTO has congratulated the European Commission for taking the lead and advancing plans to launch its Digital Green Pass, recognizing its potential to restart tourism in a number of destinations. At the same time, the UNWTO leadership also credited the Commission’s intentions to support national recovery and resilience plans, as well as the recent launch of the ‘Re-Open EU’ website and mobile app, both of which effectively complement UNWTO’s own global #RestartTourism campaign.
Tourism for economic and social wellbeing
Now more than ever, tourism needs strong political support and joined-up action. Harmonized travel and health rules are essential to restore confidence and restart tourism
Secretary-General Pololikashvili said: “Across Europe, millions of people and businesses are depending on the right decisions to be made so that tourism can restart. Today’s visit of Vice-President Margaritis Schinas is testament to the importance of tourism to economic and social wellbeing across the European Union. Now more than ever, tourism needs strong political support and joined-up action. Harmonized travel and health rules are essential to restore confidence and restart tourism.”
Vice-President Margaritis Schinas adds: “With vaccinations and better management of the crisis, there is no doubt this summer will be better than last. Reopening borders will have an impact beyond tourism. It will drive Europe’s overall recovery. And Europe will not return on its own. Europe is part of the world and we are ready find a way that the European Green Pass works with solutions provided by countries or groups of countries from outside the EU.”
Strong, ongoing collaboration
UNWTO has been working closely with the European institutions since the start of the pandemic. The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer and Travel Restrictions Report provide trusted data to guide the European Commission’s response, as well as the policies of individual EU Member States. In Madrid, Vice-President Schinas was advised of the progress UNWTO is making towards establishing a first International Code for the Protection of Tourists, a vital step towards restoring confidence in travel.
The Vice-President also signalled his availability to participate in the next meeting of UNWTO’s Global Tourism Crisis Committee, a cross-sector body established at the start of the crisis and now focusing on resuming safe international travel, restoring confidence and ensuring tourism businesses the liquidity they need to survive and protect jobs. In recognition of his long-standing contributions to European tourism and his recognition of the importance of the sector to the European Way of Life, Secretary-General Pololikashvili presented Vice-President Schinas with a plaque to commemorate his visit to the UNWTO headquarters.
Travel: Germany to demand negative Covid-19 test from all air passengers
Anyone wanting to arrive in Germany by plane must from Monday onwards show a negative Covid test before boarding, the health ministry said, amid concerns over German tourists flocking to Mallorca over the Easter holidays.
The start date of the new measure was postponed from Sunday at midnight to Monday at midnight in order to give more time for airlines to prepare, said Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) in Berlin on Friday.
Airline crews are exempt from the new rules. The test must be less than 48 hours old and is to be paid for by the passenger.
The move comes as Germany is battling a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, fuelled by new virus variants, while the country’s Covid vaccination drive is still sluggish.