Provisional plan to be unveiled for return of tourism in Europe

European Commission to publish paper ensuring states restart leisure-travel sectors

The strategy will outline a three-step approach to reopen EU borders for tourists. File photograph: Getty

The strategy will outline a three-step approach to reopen EU borders for tourists. File photograph: Getty

 

A tentative road map for the return of tourism to Europe will become clearer on Wednesday when the European Commission publishes a strategy paper aimed at ensuring member states restart leisure-travel sectors in a safe and co-ordinated manner.

The commission will also issue guidance on if and how airlines, tour operators and travel agents can offer credit notes instead of cash refunds for cancelled flights and holidays.

The strategy will outline a three-step approach to reopen EU borders for tourists and will mean member states “with similar overall risk profiles” working in a co-ordinated fashion.

This will be based – in the first instance – on information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The report also outlines how social-distancing and sanitising measures should be deployed by all transport operators including airlines. And it sets out the steps it believes travel companies should take to ensure “consumer protection while addressing the issue of reimbursement claims”.

The proposals will say that while a legal entitlement to a refund in the event that a flight is cancelled remains in force, it will suggest all companies and states offer consumers vouchers with incentives to make them more attractive.

What about a second Covid-19 wave?

Among the commission’s suggestions will be insolvency protection, greater flexibility when transferring a voucher from one person to another and a guarantee that vouchers can be exchanged for a full cash refund if not used within a one-year expiry date.

The commission will also call for “preparedness plans” so that actions can be taken speedily and effectively in the event that the EU is hit by a second wave of coronavirus.

“This will strengthen European citizens’ confidence on which the transport, travel and tourism industry should rebuild their recovery,” states the draft document.

The document also includes new measures aimed at preventing discrimination based on a person’s nationality. It makes it clear that if the border between two countries is opened then those measures will have to apply to all EU citizens living in both countries rather than just citizens of the two countries involved.

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