News ID: 268789
Published: 0913 GMT May 09, 2020

Europe's countries seeking to relaunch tourism

Europe's countries seeking to relaunch tourism


Northern Europeans may not be able to decamp to the beaches of the Mediterranean this summer because of the coronavirus, but will their governments support the devastated tourism sector?

Beach destinations like Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal are already among the European Union (EU) members facing a daunting struggle with debt — and now their vital travel and leisure industries are on the line, AFP reported.

Together with five more southern allies —France, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania — has urged the 27-member EU to help save this "strategic" economic resource.

The EU is seeking to put together a trillion-euro economic stimulus package, to kickstart the economy as a whole when the coronavirus lockdowns come to an end.

But, already rebuffed once, when they asked to share debt with their northern neighbors, southern countries are now sounding the alarm about the lost summer season.

The European Commission has been tasked with agreeing the rules of the relaunch, and on April 27, tourism ministers from member states held a video conference.

Afterwards, the nine southern members released a statement. “In our countries, tourism constitutes a strategic industry," they said.

"We would like the EU Recovery Plan to include strong support for tourism and to recognize the existence of certain territories with specificities that must be met."

The southern friends also urged "homogenous" travel rules, fearing that a piecemeal withdrawal of lockdown measures will distort the tourism market and isolate needy areas.

Brussels attempted in vain to coordinate the lockdown and keep the EU's internal borders open, but many national capitals imposed unilateral restrictions on unnecessary visits.

EU member states have now begun setting a variety of target dates and criteria for a return to normal, and some expect to urge or require their citizens to stay at home this year.

"Public health makes the law these days," said French minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

"As soon as we get word on the opening of the borders, we'll let you know. It's important that areas that have not been affected are not exposed to the virus.”


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