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Tourism alliance demands measures to reduce COVID-19 impact

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, encompassing more than 50 European public and private organizations from the world of travel and tourism, issued a statement on the implementation of urgent measures to limit the COVID-19 outbreak’s impact on the sector.

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According to the statement, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are felt throughout the global economy, with the tourism and travel sector taking a particularly bad hit. The alliance says that millions of jobs are currently at stake and many SMEs risk closing their business, arguing that support for tourism must be a priority in the crisis response, recovery plans and actions of affected economies.

The European Tourism Manifesto alliance welcomed the immediate response presented by the European Commission on March 13 to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, but now calls for the immediate implementation of these measures.

Also, the alliance says that the measures should be reinforced by additional instruments focused on the tourism sector. 

The proposed measures include temporary state aid for the tourism and travel sector from national governments; fast and easy access to short- and medium-term loans to overcome liquidity shortages, including funds made available by the EU through the Corona Response Investment Initiative; fiscal relief (both at source market and destination level), starting with SMEs and extending to economic operators of all sizes; protection of workers from unemployment and loss of income (short-time work schemes, upskilling and reskilling programs) and support for self-employed tourism stakeholders.

The alliance also calls for the fast launch of the European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme, deferment of fiscal and social contributions, immediate passing of temporary airport slots waiver, support action for the wider field of culture (arts and heritage), and better coordination between national authorities in terms of alignment of travel advice to affected regions and requirements on travelers returning from those areas.

Additionally, the alliance says that a full-speed recovery in the aftermath of the crisis must be guaranteed, calling for the simplification of visa rules for long-haul markets; reducing or waiving travelers’ taxes (passenger duties, city taxes, etc.); and supporting destinations, by increasing their budgets for promotion, marketing and product development purposes as soon as they are ready to welcome visitors again.