15 May Cyprus in TUI’s plans for tourism restart
TUI, the multinational travel and tourism company, headquartered in Hannover, Germany, announced its intention to restart the holiday industry during the peak season, with package deals to “safe” destinations, including Cyprus. At the same time, airlines plan to resume operations from July, and the European Commission provides guidelines for gradually lifting travel restrictions (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-commission-tourism-transport-2020-and-beyond_en.pdf) (https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/11610972/tui-summer-holiday-package-europe/).
More specifically, TUI sees an opportunity, in July, for a careful restart of the holidays in Cyprus, Greece and Balearic Islands (https://www.alphanews.live/economy/stelnei-toyristes-se-kypro-malta-kai-magiorka-i-germaniki-tui).
Along with Cyprus, TUI has also identified Austria and Greece, as being more viable among European destinations due to the fact that the virus in the above mentioned countries appears to be contained (https://www.bbc.com/news/business-52644291).
The company also believes that resorts in Cyprus, Greece and Mallorca may be ready for visitors from July (https://www.alphanews.live/economy/stelnei-toyristes-se-kypro-malta-kai-magiorka-i-germaniki-tui).
Additionally, Ryanair’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael O’Leary, announced plans for 1,000 flights a day from July. It should be noted that the airline operations extensively from Paphos Airport (https://cyprus-mail.com/2020/05/12/ryanair-to-resume-40-of-july-flights-with-new-rules-for-passengers/).
On 13th May 2020, the European Commission presented guidelines and recommendations to help Member States to gradually lift travel restrictions, with all the necessary safety and precautionary measures in place. This overall strategy is depicted in its Paper “Tourism and transport in 2020 and beyond” (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication-commission-tourism-transport-2020-and-beyond_en.pdf).
Additionally, the EC Commission aims to support Europe’s tourism sector by ensuring liquidity for tourism businesses, in particularly SMEs, through flexibility under State aid rules, allowing Member States to introduce schemes, such as guarantee schemes for vouchers and further liquidity schemes, to support companies in the transport and travel sectors and to ensure that reimbursement claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic are satisfied (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_854).
One set of measures include, to safely restore freedom of movement and lifting internal border controls (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication_freemovement.pdf).
This entails that in the case that a generalised lifting of restrictions is not justified by the health situation, the Commission proposes a phased and coordinated approach that starts by lifting restrictions between areas or Member States with sufficiently similar epidemiological situations.
It is important to note that this approach must also be flexible, including the possibility to reintroduce certain measures if the epidemiological situation requires. As such, the Member States should act on the basis of the following criteria: epidemiological situation, ability to apply containment measures throughout the journey, and economic and social considerations.
Another set of guidelines that the Commission has put forward is to restore transport services across the EU. These guidelines represent general principles for the safe and gradual restoration of passenger transportation by air, rail, road and waterways (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication_transportservices.pdf).
In relation to the above, these guidelines also contain practical recommendations on, for example, limiting contacts between passengers and transport workers, and the passengers themselves, and on the use of personal protective equipment while travelling. Dedicated recommendations are given for each mode of transport.
Moreover, the EU Commission has also set out a common framework which provides criteria for a safe and gradual restoration of tourism activities and the development of health protocols for hotels and other forms of accommodation, in order to protect the health of both guests and employees (https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/communication_tourismservices_healthprotocols.pdf_1.pdf).
These criteria include epidemiological evidence; sufficient health system capacity being in place for local people and tourists; robust surveillance and monitoring, testing capacity and contact tracing.
Another set of guidelines entail ensuring cross-border interoperability of tracing apps and making vouchers more attractive for customers.
It should be noted that the recommendations by the European Commission are not binding and that it is up to the Member States to either follow them or create its own policies alone, or with other Member States (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/world/europe/coronavirus-europe-vacation.html?campaign_id=51&emc=edit_MBE_p_20200514&instance_id=18461&nl=morning-briefing®i_id=98329217§ion=topNews&segment_id=27736&te=1&user_id=f15a0ae8e539f5fa362ffb259c62dc15).
The Cyprus Deputy Minister of Tourism, Mr. Savvas Perdios, stated, in relation to the EC Commission guidelines, that they are satisfied with the part that concerns the settlement of vouchers as well as the general protocols for restarting tourism businesses (https://www.stockwatch.com.cy/el/article/toyrismos/s-perdios-tha-dyskoleytoyn-ta-xenodoheia-polyteleias).
Regarding the provision that there should be equal treatment between countries with similar epidemiologicalcharacteristics, he said that “we will monitor very closely and take part in all discussions in order to avoid possible agreement between neighboring countries that would leave Cyprus out of consideration, due to distance”.