It’s one thing to know that travel agent associations are lobbying the government on agents’ behalf. It’s another to actually hear it and see it in action.
TORONTO — Europe is still closed to travellers from outside of Europe until at least July – and Canadians are still dealing with the travel advisory for travel outside Canada – but anticipating an eventual ramping up of inbound visitors, Europe has launched a new website with all the latest travel info and regulations in the wake of COVID-19.
The EU says the new interactive site, called ‘Re-open EU’, “supports a safe relaunch of travelling and tourism across Europe.”
The platform provides real-time information on borders and available means of transport and tourism services, as well as health and safety measures and restrictions across all EU Member States (27 countries), says Dana Welch, Manager, Canada for Tourism Ireland and also chair of ETC’s Canada Chapter.
Users can view regulations country by country, and within each country’s listings, click on different icons, colour-coded green, yellow or red, for updates on arrival regulations by various modes of transport, quarantine restrictions and more.
The site is available in all 24 languages of the EU.
On June 15 select European countries began opening their borders to travellers from other European countries.
However, while the European Commission has recommended that all Schengen area and EU countries reopen their internal borders to get tourism started again, the final decision is up to each individual country.
Also Europe’s external borders, to travellers from outside of Europe, remain closed and will remain closed until at early July and possibly longer.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has spoken out, saying that while it welcomes the European Commission’s efforts to coordinate Europe’s re-opening, there are concerns that countries will opt to reopen on their own timelines and not the EC’s.
That could lead to a “patchwork of rules and confusion,” says the GBTA.
“Global travel will be the driving force of the post-COVID recovery. It will allow individuals to reconnect, place skills where they are most needed, boost employment and help resurrect the economies in the EU and across the world”, says Scott Solombrino, GBTA’s CEO.
The GBTA represents over 9,000 small and large corporations flying their employees across Europe and the world.
The latest of the GBTA’s frequent membership polls shows that more than half of companies are considering allowing their employees to travel again in the near future.
Solombrino says health and safety guidelines throughout all travel sectors are a key part of that process. “People aren’t going to travel until they feel safe. Our member companies want to see health and safety maintained at every stage of the travel process – from the minute the traveller leaves home until they arrive back safely, this includes all travel sectors from ground transportation to airlines, to hotels,” he said.
He adds that blanket quarantine rules, such as the 14-day quarantine imposed by the British government, are disproportionate and unenforceable and will do irreparable harm to a travel sector that’s already facing huge challenges.
He notes that the travel community has been advocating for alternative measures, including tests and temperature checks at the country of origin and upon arrival.
“Resurrecting travel requires predictability and transparent and timely communication. Uncoordinated measures will add further strain on citizens and travel operators alike as business depends on seamless cross-border travel,” says Solombrino.