The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has called for more consistent travel rules and COVID-19 (coronavirus) advice by European countries to counter confusion by travelers.
Those visiting Europe for the first time since travel restrictions began to ease have faced a “baffling array” of different types of travel rules and advice—with each country across the continent emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic at different stages, which is delaying the recovery. The uneven patchwork of COVID-19 national border restrictions and rules across a “supposedly single” Schengen Zone, WTTC says, is a deterrent to cross-border movement.
The travel and tourism sector’s return is needed to regenerate destinations and act as a catalyst for the global economic recovery. WTTC research shows that every 2.7 percent increase in travelers would generate or recover 1 million jobs in the sector. Governments working together with the right coordinated measures could stimulate an increase in travel by as much as 27 percent, recreating 10 million jobs in travel and tourism.
Consumer confusion over travel rules such as the wearing of face masks is evident. It is mandatory on public transport in some countries, such as France and Germany, but only recommended in Norway and Sweden. Meanwhile in Malta, masks must be worn in all public places whereas in Poland they are not needed if people can respect physical distancing. WTTC warns that unless European governments make a greater effort to align their policies, it will cause the recovery to stutter and slowdown.
Medical advice, including from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is clear that the use of face masks helps reduce the risk of transmission up to 90 percent, according to WTTC.
To align policies, governments need take into consideration more than just mortality rates, WTTC says. Wider country measures, including infection rates, the percentage of tests and contact tracing, the health system’s ability to cope with COVID-19 and the public’s acceptance of mask-wearing and observance of social distancing is also important.
The Travel & Tourism sector contributes 9.1 percent of Europe’s GDP, worth $2 trillion to the continent’s economy. Last year, according to the WTTC Travel & Tourism Economic Impact Report 2020, the sector was responsible for 37.1 million jobs (9.7 percent of Europe’s total employment number).