Strategy to reboot tourism

strategy to reboot tourism The tourism industry has been badly hit by the coronavirus crisis.

The tourism industry accounts for 10% of employment worldwide and 12% of jobs in the European Union and in order to recover, it needs coordinated international support estimated at some 375 billion euros. The whole industry has been badly hit by the travel restrictions and social distancing measures imposed by governments around the world to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The crisis has hit everyone working in tourism, from small businesses to big hotel chains and travel agencies. The entire tourism industry may shrink by as much as 80% this year compared with last year according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. The situation is much worse than during the economic crisis of 2009, when the industry shrank by only 4%. 

Europe has a very active tourist ecosystem. Trips, transport, accommodation, food, leisure and culture account for almost 10% of the European Union's GDP and provides a significant source of employment and income in many regions. 267 million Europeans - representing 62% of Europe's population - make at least one private leisure trip a year and 78% of Europeans spend their holidays in their countries of origin or other EU country, according to the European Commission figures. Summer is a crucial season for the tourism industry, generating an average income of 150 billion euros in Europe and 360 million arrivals. 

Little surprise then that the sector is a priority for the European Union, which has come up with a set of guidelines and recommendations as part of a tourism and travel package that lays down a global strategy for recovery in 2020 and beyond, a joint approach to restore freedom of movement and eliminate restrictions on EU's internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way. The package also lays down the framework for the gradual re-establishment of transport while ensuring the safety of passengers and personnel and a recommendation to make travel vouchers an alternative to cash reimbursement. The European Commission also plans to support tourist businesses in several ways, by ensuring liquidity, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises, and saving jobs with up to 100 billion euros in financial relief through the SURE programme. 

Transport is a key element of tourism. The European Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, who was Romania's pick for this post, told Radio Romania that it is not yet possible to set a clear date for the normal or gradual reopening of transport because it is not known yet how the pandemic will develop. She said, however, that the rules adopted by the European Union lay down the conditions of travel:

"People often ask me: 'when will we be able to travel again?' The answer to this question must be given by the authorities of each individual member state and must take into account a series of criteria relating to the epidemiological situation in that country, criteria highlighted by my colleagues from the field of healthcare. Secondly, we have to decide what are the destinations we greenlight for transport, because, of course, we're not expecting the situation to be the same everywhere in Europe, for borders to reopen and quarantine and isolation measures to be the same in all member states. These are decisions to be taken by the national governments."

What we do know is that reopening travel will be done in a flexible and coordinated way and in several stages. As far as tourism is concerned, there are, however, some clear conditions that have to be met in order to ease restrictions in a given region or member state, namely that the number of new infections decreases and remains low and that states ensure access to their healthcare systems to tourists. In Romania, tourism has lost 6 million overnights in recent months and some 250 million euros in revenues, according to the president of the Hotel Industry Federation, Calin Ilie. He says that the situation of the tourist sector is very complicated and compared the industry with a train running at high speed and hitting a wall. "The situation is dramatic", he says and estimates the total impact of the tourism crisis on Romania's GDP at more than 5%. 

90% of hotels in Romania were closed because of the pandemic and 150,000 employees out of the 180,000 working in the hospitality industry have been furloughed or laid off, says Razvan Pascu, the founder of a tourist business. In his opinion, the current situation may also be an opportunity for Romanian tourism:

"It's clear that tourists' behaviour will change. Most probably, they will no longer prefer big, all-inclusive type hotels with a thousand people crowding in to get their breakfast and will chose instead other types of holidays. I think road trips will come back in fashion and that we'll see more nature trips, people will change their behaviour somehow. It may be an opportunity to promote Romania as a different type of destination, a different type of travel with less mass tourism, and I think Romania's strategy should focus on this in the next two or three years."

The results of recent surveys show that people will give up holidaying abroad this year and choose proximity tourism instead. (CM)
Publicat: 2020-05-22 14:00:00
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