The European tourism sector is one of the hardest-hit sectors among others in the world. The COVID -19 pandemic has been responsible for the restriction of movement among several countries in Europe vastly affecting the tourism industry. The tourism sector is responsible for the employment of millions of workers while the coronavirus travel restriction is responsible for the loss of jobs in millions.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism contributes about 9.1% of Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The GDP is worth US$ 2,018.2 in Europe’s economy. WTTC’s Travel and Tourism Impact Report 2020 released in 2019, suggests that the tourism sector is responsible for 37.1 million jobs which accounts for 9.7% of the region’s total employment.

Since the lockdown in Europe, tourist destinations have closed down due to COVID-19 lockdown measures and countrytravel restrictions to battle the pandemic spread. Lower infection and spread rates experienced in Europe sparked and ease of travel rules into the region.

The Confusion in Travel Rules

Different countries in Europe have formulated different rules and regulations in easing travel restrictions. It has become difficult for travelers to keep up on travel regulations for each country, making everything confusing and chaotic.  

People travelling to Europe for the first time have faced an array of different travel rules and advice. As countries emerge from deeper levels of the pandemic, they do so at different stages given the difference in terms of how the pandemic affected those countries. As such, the countries stipulate different travel restrictions as they ease up entry into the country.

The unnecessary and inconsistent constraints from points of entry are frustrating for travellers and deter them from travelling to different tourist destinations in Europe. Such experiences negatively impact the tourism sector hence worsening the situation rather than restore the sector.

The Impact on Tourism

With more jobs lost in tourism and other sectors of the economy, Europe’s economy is performing dismally. Therefore, the objective for most countries is to recover their economies through the gradual easing of travel restrictions in their nations.

Research from WTTC implies that with every 2.7% increase in travels allowed into Europe, it would help recover one million jobs and generate revenue that would boost the region’s economy. However, the challenge remains that the differentiated travel rules cause deterrence to the inflow of tourists into the region.

For instance, consumer confusion over travel regulations like the wearing of masks is apparent. People must wear masks in public transport while in Norway and Sweden, it is only recommended that travellers wear masks. In Malta, wearing masks in public spaces is mandatory while in Poland it is not, especially, if people address social distancing.

The Solution

Restoring the tourism sector is important because it will help the economy and bring back jobs for employees in the tourism sectors that were laid off.State leaders should meet and come up with universal travel rules across the region. The move would help salvage the deterrence of tourists or people wishing to access Europe.

Written by contributor Victor Kanake. Source: BBC