Europe gears up to welcome back tourists this summer
The European Commission is working on a ‘Digital Green Pass’ that would provide proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test results, with the aim of making travel easier for people in the EU and abroad
From France to Greece, Europe’s top tourist destinations are gearing up to welcome visitors back this summer ater the coronavirus pandemic wrecked last year’s season.
The European Commission is working on a “Digital Green Pass” that would provide proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test results, with the aim of making travel easier for people in the European Union (EU) and abroad.
The pass may be available from June, but countries are already geting ready for tourists. Here is a look at the latest situation: France: France was the world’s top tourist destination before the pandemic in 2019 with 90 million visitors.
The government launched a multi-million-euro campaign on Tuesday to woo tourists.
Restrictions are gradually being lited, with France’s famous cafe terraces set to reopen on May 19 along with shops, museums and theatres.
Indoor spaces in restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen on June 9 with a near total return to normal by the end of the month.
But new restrictions could be imposed if cases exceed 400 infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
Greece: Athens last month lited a sevenday quarantine period for travellers from the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Serbia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
It reopened outdoor cafes and restaurants before France, on May 3.
Now it is hoping to make its idyllic islands virus-free by giving them priority in the vaccination campaign, giving jabs to their entire adult population earlier than the rest of Greece.
Private beaches reopened on Saturday and museums will follow suit on May 14. Outdoor cinemas will do so from May 21 although with reduced capacity and theatres will do the same from May 28.
Cruise ships and passengers will also be welcome at Greek ports, a boon as tourism is worth a 20 per cent slice of Greece’s GDP, according to the World Trade and Tourism Council (WTTC).
Spain: Spain was the second top tourist destination in the world ater France in 2019, with 83.5 million visitors. Visits crumbled by 77 per cent last year.
Tourism represents 14.1 per cent of Spain’s economic activity.
Madrid has been a relative refuge for European tourists as bars, museums, restaurants and theatres have been let open since last June. Visitors only need to show a negative virus test over the previous 72 hours.
As of last Sunday, Spaniards can travel outside their region and the country’s curfew has been lited save for the Balearic Islands and Valencia region pending a judicial green light.
Italy: Italy plans to introduce its own COVID-19 pass later this month ahead of the EU, which will allow travel to every region of the country.
The certificate will be given to people who can show they were vaccinated or previously had COVID-19, or tested negative for the coronavirus.
The document will be available to people outside the EU, said Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia.
“The US and Britain represent 30 per cent of foreign arrivals in Italy. They are tourists who spend a lot,” he said.
Cruises have resumed in Italian ports while bars and restaurants can serve people outside again.
Italy welcomed 64.5 million foreign visitors in 2019, according to the World Tourism Organisation.
Malta: The Mediterranean island of Malta, which received 2.8 million tourists in 2019, is to offer the first 38,000 visitors 200 euros ($243) towards a minimum three-night hotel stay.
The sum must be spent in the country and will be increased by 10 per cent for trips to the isle of Gozo.
Malta may demand that visitors be vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test before arrival if virus is not under control in their country of origin.
Meanwhile, the United States drug regulator authorised the Pfizer-biontech vaccine for children aged 12-15 as the country aims to speed up its COVID-19 recovery.
With some wealthy nations easing restrictions thanks to rapid inoculation drives but many others struggling to secure doses, the head of the World Health Organisation slammed so-called “vaccine diplomacy” and called for cooperation without strings atached.