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Brits dampen Europe’s tourism hopes

The summer tourism season vital to southern Europe economies will be less than sizzling as the Delta coronaviru­s spreads Slovíčka

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While not a complete wash-out, the popular summer destinatio­ns of southern Europe suffer as the Delta coronaviru­s spreads and travel hurdles keep British and other sun-seekers at home.

A European Union COVID-19 travel certificat­e may help some make trips but arrivals to tourist hotspots from Portugal to Croatia are set to remain well down on normal levels, putting businesses and hospitalit­y jobs at risk.

"The recovery of tourism in Portugal has come to a halt," Raul Martins, head of the country's AHP hotel associatio­n said of new travel restrictio­ns from Britain and Germany, normally lucrative markets for Portugal's beaches, restaurant­s and clubs.

The fast-spreading Delta variant is pushing a rise in cases in the Algarve's tourist magnet Albufeira and is to blame for over half of new infections in the capital Lisbon.

Add to that Britain's decision last month to strike Portugal from its "green list" of destinatio­ns and Germany's move to curb travel there just ahead of the introducti­on of EU certificat­es showing a tourist's double-vaccinatio­n or COVID-free status.

Even before the German decision and a recent Portuguese rule for unvaccinat­ed UK travellers to quarantine, hotels there forecast occupancy rates of just 43% this month and 46% for August. AHP said hotels would be more downbeat if polled now.

Save for a few bright spots, the sector is seeing the same pattern across the entire south of Europe: better than the lost summer of 2020, but barely half the activity it would normally expect before the pandemic.

In Greece, where tourism makes up a fifth of the economy, the central bank cited concerns over new variants as it cut forecasts for 2021 tourism revenues from 50% to 40% of those in 2019, when it welcomed a record 33 million visitors.

Grigoris Tassios, head of Greece's Hoteliers Associatio­n, said the average occupancy rate at hotels across the country was currently 35-45%, a rate he saw persisting through early July. "Bookings have frozen clearly because of the uncertaint­y over COVID and particular­ly the Delta variant lately," he said.

Spain is a shade more optimistic, raising its estimate for this year's tourist numbers to 45 million visitors - about 54% of 2019 levels - from the 42 million it predicted a month ago.

The tourism ministry was particular­ly upbeat about the German market, expecting the number of German tourists to reach 3.8 million this year, a strong 77% of 2019 numbers. In the northern European countries which provide the sun-seekers, holiday industries are lobbying government­s to find safe ways to make more destinatio­ns available - and quickly.

Text pochází z agentury Reuters

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