EUROPEAN Union member states are meeting today to discuss when to reopen their beaches and cities to tourists, assuming that the coronavirus crisis recovery stays on track. The meeting is being held by video conferencing but does not include the UK who are in the transitional period of leaving the EU. It is thought that Greece and Austria, both relatively unaffected by the virus, want to open to holidaymakers this summer, although not in all areas.
However, one of the reasons for the conference is to co-ordinate any response for logistical reasons as well as to show solidarity. Greek tourism minister Harry Theoharis said “I will be pushing for agreement on a common set of [EU] rules.We need them if we are to start moving people from one country to another by road, air or sea. Temporary rules will have to make economic sense.If, for example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight.”
There are also concerns from the UK industry that the British will not be allowed to travel as many countries feel their lockdown efforts were too slow and did not go far enough. The fact that the UK will not be at the meeting to push their cause may hinder things, although not being allowed to travel may be a boost for the UK’s domestic travel industry. Spain’s approach is unclear at this stage but, as the worst hit country in Europe, it seems unlikely that their tourist industry will be completely open to foreign travellers by the summer.