STAYCATIONS POST COVID-19
As the UK prepares for a glut of bookings if the government allows staycations this summer, other European countries are also moving to save their tourism industries, which represent around 10% of GDP.
As the most popular country in the world for tourists, France has been hit harder than most by a drop in holidaymakers. Around 90 million people, the majority from Britain and Germany, visited last year. Almost half of them visited Paris, and 15 million headed to Disneyland – the most popular tourist attraction in Europe. Last week, France’s prime minister Edouard Philippe, announced an €18bn (£16bn) rescue package for the country’s tourism sector to combat the collapse in visitor numbers. “What is good for the tourism industry, is often good for the whole of France,” he said.
People staying in gîtes, hotels and campsites normally bring in around €56bn in tourism receipts, helping sustain more than two million jobs. But around 95% of hotels have been shut since March. In an attempt to gradually reopen them, Philippe said France’s residents would be allowed to go on holiday from July, but only within the country.
Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has said several times that Italians will be going on holiday this summer. Yesterday , the government approved a decree which will allow travel to and from abroad from June 3. Free travel within the country’s borders will also be permitted from the same day.
Some regions had pushed for a swifter rollback, but Conte has insisted on a gradual return to normal to prevent a second wave of infections.
Shops are due to open tomorrow and all movement within individual regions will be allowed, meaning people can visit friends.
The government is hoping to salvage the holiday season, when Italians traditionally escape the cities for their annual summer breaks. Shops and restaurants across the country are preparing to reopen under strict social distancing and hygiene rules.
National health authorities will monitor the situation to make sure infections are kept in check, the decree said. Angela Giuffrida
Spain’s foreign minister, Arancha González Laya, warned at the end of April that the country would re-open to tourists only “when it’s in a position to guarantee tourists’ safety”.
Everyone arriving in Spain from abroad since 15 May must undertake a two-week quarantine, with new arrivals allowed out only to buy food or medicine, seek medical attention, or on emergency grounds. The quarantine will remain in force while the state of emergency, declared on 14 March, endures – possibly until the end of June.
The regions are emerging from lockdown at different rates . Hotels in some areas have been given permission to re-open – barring communal areas – but few have resumed business for lack of customers. Beaches could re-open in mid-June, but it remains to be seen how social distancing will be enforced. Sam Jones
GREECE AND CYPRUS
In Greece and Cyprus, a fifth of the workforce is employed in tourism, almost double the EU average, with the industry still the single biggest contributor to their economies.
Last year, Greece received a record 33 million tourists, three times its population. This year, industry officials admit they’ll be lucky if they get a third of that number. With as many as 65% of hotels facing bankruptcy, the country is keen to capitalise on its successful handling of the pandemic. Along with Cyprus, Greece has emerged with one of the lowest infection rates and death tolls in Europe after enforcing radical lockdown measures early on. “If things go according to plan, we’ll be open by 1 July,” prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week. “Europe’s tourism pie is going to be much smaller, but this summer we want a bigger part of it.” Helena Smith