European travel and tourism bodies unite in call for EU coordinated approach on travel restrictions

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Open letter to President von der Leyen issued by travel and tourism representatives.

IRU joined travel and tourism bodies and unions across Europe in an unprecedented call for European Commission leadership in ending quarantine restrictions and developing an EU Testing Protocol for Travel in a bid to save the livelihoods of more than 27 million Europeans who work in the sector.

In an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, 20 groups, including IRU representing 370,000 passenger transport operators in Europe, point to a continued lack of coordination on travel restrictions. It 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, coach operators, camp sites, holiday parks, taxi operators, tourism boards and authorities and all their associated logistics and supply chains.

“This chaotic situation requires your immediate personal involvement,” states the letter to Ursula von der Leyen. “We are thus urging you to make this issue a top priority and calling on you to address it directly with Heads of State and Government.” 

“We are also urging you to ensure that the Commission takes the lead in the development of an EU Testing Protocol for travel and its implementation.” 

The sectors united in this call for immediate action point to the fact that the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) formally advises states against extreme travel restrictions, which are neither risk-based nor proven to be effective where community transmission is already present – which is the case across Europe.

“The travel industry is facing a deep crisis and the bus and coach sector, comprised of up to 90% of small and medium businesses, is particularly affected. Bus and coach tourism companies are expecting losses to reach 82% of their turnover in 2020. A coordinated approach by the EU and national governments on testing and travel restrictions is vital for the survival of many businesses across Europe. Travellers don’t know where to go and the patchwork of red zones is the root cause of this uncertainty,” said Raluca Marian, IRU General Delegate to the EU.

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 to re-establishing the free movement of people, ending current discrimination and restoring the essential functionality of the Single Market.” 

“We hope the EU will not let us down.”

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