UNWTO congratulated the European Commission for launching its Digital Green Pass, recognizing its potential to restart tourism in several destinations. Also known as the Digital Green Certificate, it will be proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19.
UNTWO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili observed that across Europe, millions of people and businesses were depending on the right decisions to be made so that tourism could restart. Now more than ever, tourism needs strong political support and joined-up action. Harmonized travel and health rules are essential to restore confidence and renew tourism.
European Union is hard at work to ensure the summer tourist season of 2021 is not squandered, pushing to deliver 420 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines by mid-July, enough to allow the bloc to reach collective immunity.
European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton strongly believes that they need to shift into the next gear in terms of the vaccination movement. This planned introduction of a common EU vaccine certificate in June would support the resumption of travel, he added.
Not all European nations are content with waiting on the EU to decide the fate of their tourism. Greece, for example, has already struck a deal to welcome tourists from Israel if they have a vaccine passport. Cyprus too will welcome British tourists from 1 May, as long as they have had two doses of any vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
MAKE OR BREAK TIME
Tourism is big business, providing 27m jobs in Europe and generating around 10% of the EU’s GDP when you consider the other sectors that depend on it. Countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy which rely heavily on tourism to generate revenue cannot recover until the tourist industry is reopened. Many local businesses that operate in tourist hotspots and make ends meet by catering to visitors will perish if the government does not find the most effective way to procure and distribute the vaccine.
Training a prophetic eye, June seems to be ‘make or break’ for these economies. If the vaccination levels are high in June, the tourist season will be saved. But if they have to wait until the end of summer, they may not reach the end with the same number of businesses they started with, for most will not likely weather another poor vacation season.
For this reason, not all EU countries are planning to put rules that favor those who have received a vaccine, for being segregational might still deter tourists. Europe’s many initiatives will drive an impact beyond tourism and benefit more than just Europe. It is a part of a bigger world, and with other countries ready to collaborate on solution building, the impact of the crisis can be mitigated to ensure we have a better year than 2020.