The S&D Group welcomes the travel and tourism package the European Commission has announced today. It is, indisputably, an important step that has finally brought travel and tourism high-up on the political agenda of the EU institutions.
Iratxe Garcia, S&D Group president, commented:
“Tourism represents 10% of the EU's GDP and has been severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, so it is a strategic sector of our economies that must supported by the EU. This is why we, the S&Ds, have been strongly calling for a specific and urgent action plan from the Commission to protect the rights of consumers, the viability of SME’s and touristic businesses, and to coordinate a response to ensure the safety of all transports.
“Furthermore, regarding freedom of movement, it is a fundamental principle and we hope it will get back to normal as soon as possible. In the meantime, we must ensure safety for travellers and no discrimination for those citizens who want to be able to go on holidays to another EU country this summer. Any bilateral agreement between EU member states would have been completely unacceptable.”
Ismail Ertug, S&D vice-president in charge of transport, stated:
“The Commission’s proposals are a step in the right direction. It is undoubtedly positive that the Commission did not give in on the demands of some member states to virtually eliminate the rights of passengers to get their money refunded in the case of a flight being cancelled. This right needs to be preserved, but optional vouchers have to be made more attractive to consumers.
“It is good to see that the Commission has followed the line the S&Ds have advocated for since the beginning of the crisis. However, in the long run, a European Travel Guarantee Fund is needed to ensure the financial stability of the sector and consumers’ rights at the same time.”
István Ujhelyi, S&D spokesman on tourism, added:
“Two aspects must go hand in hand, the protection of the consumers, and the jobs of the 27 million workers in the tourism sector. Concrete, feasible and realistic solutions are urgently needed. After the recovery period, a long-term Smart and Sustainable Strategy with a tourism budget line in the MFF combined with a permanent Crisis Management Mechanism is needed.
“Together, we should build the trust for travel and tourism at both European and global levels; that is why it is of outstanding importance to strengthen our institutional relationship with member states, local and regional authorities, between EU institutions and tourism stakeholders, including the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).”