EU plans to restart travel and tourism - for Tourism is among hardest hot by global outbreak that has grounded nearly all travel.

BRUSSELS : EU states should guarantee vouchers for travel cancelled during the coronavirus pandemic and start lifting internal border restrictions in a bid to salvage some of the summer tourism season, the block's executive will say next week.

Tourism, that normally contributes almost a tenth of the European Union's economic output, is among the sectors hardest hit by the global outbreak that has nearly grounded all travel.

Germany and other member states have urged a suspension of EU rules that force cash-drained airlines and the hospitality industry to offer full refunds for cancelled flights and trips instead of vouchers for future travel.

In response, the European Commission will tell member states to guarantee vouchers to make them more attractive to customers, according to a strategy document seen by Reuters ahead of official publication due on Wednesday. 

''To provide incentives to passengers and travelers to accept vouchers instead of reimbursement, vouchers should be protected against insolvency of the issuer and remain refundable by the end of their validity if not redeemed,'' the draft document said.

''Insolvency protection needs to be assured at the national level and secured vouchers need to be accessible to all passengers and travellers,'' it added.

The EU executive will also tell block's 27 member countries to gradually lift internal border restrictions and restart some travel to help the tourism sector.

Tourism normally brings some Euro 450 billion every season from June through August with some  360 million international arrivals, according to the Commission.

But Europe's external borders are now bound to be shut for any non-essential travel and at least mid-June, an emergency measure to limit the spread of the virus.

''Our tourism industry is in grave trouble,'' the Commission is due to say, warning that 6.4 million jobs could be lost in the sector that has reported falls in revenue ranging from 50% for hotels and restaurants to 90% for cruises and airlines.

The pandemic set the EU on a path towards its worst-even economic downturn and bitterly tested unity between member states fighting over medical equipment, export ban on drugs, chaotic border curbs and money to salvage their single market. [Reuters]


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