Last updated: 20 May 2020
The European Commission on Wednesday (13 May) set out plans for a phased restart of travel this summer, proposing a gradual lifting of borders in an attempt to kick start a tourism sector hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.



“This is not going to be a normal summer… but when we all do our part we don’t have to face a summer stuck at home or completely lost for tourism industry,” Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager told reporters.

“Today’s guidance can be the chance of a better season for the many Europeans whose livelihood depends on tourism and, of course, for those who would like to travel this summer,” the Danish official added.

Travel and freedom of movement restrictions aimed at combatting the virus have already had a devastating impact on Europe’s tourism sector, which in total accounts for 10% of GDP and 12% of jobs.

Southern countries in particular, like Greece, Italy and Spain, Europe’s top holiday destinations, are already struggling with debt and the impact of COVID-19.

“We are helping European tourism get back on track while staying healthy and safe. We propose a common European approach to manage what will remain a difficult 2020 summer season, while preparing for a more sustainable and digital tourism ecosystem in the future,” Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton added.

Millions of SMEs and family-run businesses working in accommodation, restaurants, passenger transport and travel agencies risking bankruptcies and job losses “urgently need to go back to work,” Breton said.

“Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer,” said Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, “even if it’s with security measures and limitations.”