EU criteria for safe and clean tourism, including a common vaccination certificate, should be a part of a new EU strategy on sustainable tourism, said MEPs. The draft resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism, adopted by 47 votes in favour and two against, urges EU countries to include the tourism and travel sectors in their recovery plans and consider temporarily reducing VAT on these services.
‘Safe and clean’ tourism
The text says that the pandemic shifted traveller’s demand toward ‘safe and clean’ and more sustainable tourism. It asks the member states to fully and without delay implement common criteria for safe travel, with an EU Health Safety protocol for testing before departure, and applying quarantine requirement as a last resort.
MEPs want a common vaccination certificate, which could become an alternative to PCR tests and quarantine requirements, once there is sufficient evidence that vaccinated persons do not transmit the virus, or mutual recognition of vaccination procedures. They also stress the importance of deploying EU Passenger Locator Form and developing voluntary, interoperable and anonymized tracking, tracing and warning apps.
The draft resolution also urges the Commission to introduce the EU hygiene certification seal, which could certify minimum COVID-19 virus prevention and control standards and could help to restore consumer’s trust in tourism and travel sectors.
MEPs also welcomes the ‘Re-open EU’ portal and urges EU countries to send clear information on the application or lifting of future restrictions on free movement to the Commission.
New agency for tourism
MEPs advocate a need to look beyond the pandemic and replace the 2010 strategy on EU tourism to maintain Europe’s standing as a leading destination. The text finally calls on the Commission to set up a European Agency for Tourism.
“With summer just around the corner, we want to avoid past errors and put in place uniform travel measures, such as an EU protocol for tests before departure, a vaccination certificate, and a European sanitary seal. Tourism is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest by this pandemic. It needs to be properly included in the Member States’ recovery plans and a mechanism to clearly show whether it benefits from EU support”, said European Parliament rapporteur Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar (EPP, PT).
The resolution on establishing an EU strategy for sustainable tourism now needs to be voted by the full house of the Parliament, possibly during the March II session.
The COVID-19 outbreak has paralyzed the EU tourism sector, which employs 27 million people (contributing around 10% of EU GDP), with 6 million jobs currently at risk.