Over 20 travel and tourism bodies, as well as unions across Europe, have issued a call for the European Commission leadership to replace quarantine restrictions with an EU Testing Protocol for Travel in a bid to save the livelihoods of the more than 27 million Europeans who work in the sector.
In an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the groups, who represent over 5,000 member companies and their workers, point to a continued lack of co-ordination and diverging travel restrictions as crippling their business.
The letter is signed by representatives from across the tourism and travel sector and their workers, including airlines, airports, railways, ground handlers, caterers, travel retailers, air navigation service providers, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agents, road transport operators and logistics services, camp sites, holiday parks, taxi operators, tourism boards and authorities and all their associated supply chains.
The letter comes as the latest data from airport body ACI Europe shows a continued decline in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports during the first two weeks of September – now standing at a loss of 73%; down from sluggish ‘peak recovery level’ of -65% mid-August.
“This chaotic situation requires your immediate personal involvement” states the letter to Mrs von der Leyen. “We are thus urging you to make this issue a top priority and calling on you to address this issue directly with heads of state and government. We are therefore also urging you to ensure that the Commission takes the lead in the development of an EU Testing Protocol for travel and its implementation to avoid quarantines and re-open borders”.
The call to arms points to the fact that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) formally advises states against extreme travel restrictions, which are neither risk-based nor proven effective where community transmission is already present – as is the case across Europe.
The letter concludes by highlighting the core pillars and essential purpose of the European goals. The reduction and removal of quarantines is, state the signatories, “instrumental in re-establishing the free movement of people, ending current discriminations and restoring the essential functionality of the single market. We hope the EU will not let us down”.
The full text of the letter can be found here.