Travel industry calls for development of common EU testing protocol and end to quarantines

(Photo: Gatwick Airport)

Over 20 EU travel and tourism associations issue open letter to European Commission President following further dramatic decreases in air passenger traffic

In an open letter to Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, groups who represent more than 5,000 member companies and their workers highlighted the “lack of co-ordination and diverging travel restriction information” which they say is “crippling the passenger travel business”.

The travel and tourism bodies united with unions across Europe in a bid to replace quarantine restrictions with an ‘EU testing Protocol for Travel’.

The new plan aims to enforce testing to a much larger degree within the tourism sector, rather than placing restrictions on travel itself.

Among those to have signed are representatives of thousands of tourism service companies, including airlines, airports, railways, caterers, travel retailers, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agents, campsites, holiday parks, taxi operators and tourism boards. All of the sectors to have signed the letter calling for immediate action. They point to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and its formal advice against extreme travel restrictions. These restrictions, the letter states, have not proven effective where community transmission of the disease is already present, and are not risk-based.

Speaking on behalf of those affected, the letter reads: “This chaotic situation requires your immediate personal involvement…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 letter comes as the latest data from airport body, ACI EUROPE, released information which shows a continued decline in passenger traffic within Europe’s airports over the first two weeks of September. The decline now stands at a staggering -73% whereas, in August, it stood at a ‘peak recovery level’ of -65%.

The letter concludes with the reinforcement of the importance of free movement and the risk of total quarantine restrictions. Finally, in a powerful sign-off, the signatories end their plea to the European Commission President, stating “We hope the EU will not let us down”.