What about the holiday season?

Covid-19 travel restrictions are still in place in most European countries. But with the holiday season fast approaching, above all regions that are heavily dependent on tourism are working on strategies that make rest and recreation possible while maintaining distancing measures. The crisis should also be used to improve the problematic aspects of the tourism industry, commentators stress.

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El País (ES) /

Race to attract post-corona business

El País fears Spain will be left behind if it doesn't hurry up and introduce a state aid programme for tourism:

“With the different speeds [at which lockdown measures are being relaxed] it's not just the rate of infection and the quality of the healthcare system that play a role, but also the capacity to use state funds to guarantee the survival of companies and the availability of funds to invest in rescue packages. France has just announced an 18 billion euro programme for its tourism sector, Italy an 8 billion euro package. Spanish tourism also needs a rescue plan that is more ambitious than the indirect measures already in place.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Reduce dependence on tourism

Now the disadvantages of the Cypriot economy's dependence on tourism are becoming clear, observes Phileleftheros:

“This time tourism will not save the Cypriot economy, as it did during the economic crisis in 2013. This time tourism will need help. It looks like there won't be a holiday season this year. The state must take measures, in cooperation with businesses from the tourism industry, to attract domestic tourists. Although hoteliers don't see the domestic market as a viable solution for the industry, it's better than nothing ... We have learned another lesson from the corona crisis, namely that the economy should not be based solely on tourism. The state should strengthen other areas that have a perspective and can contribute to reviving the economy.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Vacationers a source of hope and danger

Both hope and fear are growing in Croatia with the arrival of the first tourists since the border reopened, Večernji list notes:

“Never before, not even in the first years after the war, have the hosts on the Adriatic Sea felt as uncertain as they do now. The easing of the pandemic has brought a sliver of optimism, hope is growing and ambitions are rising. The coast, which attracts more than 20 million tourists a year, will remain half-empty but at least not entirely empty this season, it's hoped. ... The risk grows with the arrival of strangers, and the discomfort of the hosts is understandable. But it has been shown that the virus can be defeated by physical distance, maximum hygiene and adherence to all the prescribed protective measures.”

Ta Nea (GR) /

Greece needs the tourists

Athens needs to convince travellers that the country is safe, writes Ta Nea:

“Every percentage point in GDP is hugely valuable in the fight to fend off a devastating blow to the labour market and to the economy more generally. It is of vital importance to swiftly restart the Greek tourism industry. One cannot even dream of the record numbers of tourists in recent years but not a day should be lost. The only way to partially save the summer season is for Greece to persuade people that it is a safe tourist destination and not to jeopardise the international praise and recognition. 'Greece: Your safe harbor in troubled waters' is one possible slogan.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

Support quality tourism

The entire low-cost model in tourism is being put to the test, El Periódico de Catalunya observes:

“The low-cost airlines need to be reconceived, but also the tourism segments based on intensive use of natural resources without adding value. This year's experiment, which will be painful for hundreds of thousands of workers, will prove that in critical moments it is not only the price that counts, but also the loyalty of customers. We live in a world of experiences, and if these are not positive they can only be sold for rock-bottom prices. Now those who have invested in constructing stable bonds with their customers will reap the benefits. And government aid should also reward this model.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

End the dodging of responsibilities by cruise lines

More than 100,000 crew members from many different nations are trapped on stranded cruise ships because cruise lines based in Panama or Vanuatu are failing to ensure their repatriation, Jyllands-Posten points out:

“Just as tax havens must be combated this year, the maritime nations of the world which have great stakes in the cruise industry, including Norway, must use the corona crisis to change legal requirements so that cruise ships are registered in the country where the owners are based. Clear laws on how crew members must be treated in the event of a new crisis must also be passed. The current situation, which is only comfortable for the cruise lines, is not in keeping with the 21st century.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Self-protection requires isolation

Countries such as Malta that are popular holiday destinations should keep measures to stop tourists from entering in place despite the losses this entails, the Times of Malta demands:

“This two-pronged approach, allowing the economy to restart in a limited, phased way while continuing to restrict opportunities for the virus to be transmitted - all subject to periodical review - may well prove to be the right one. For it to work though, the closure of our airport to passenger traffic must continue to be tolerated for the time being, even if the economic cost of such a measure is devastating. There are few advantages to being an isolated island nation but this is one that must be exploited for the long-term benefit of society.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

You can't pay employees with hope

In Germany a worldwide travel warning is in place until mid-June. The government should have had the courage to extend it beyond the summer, says Zeit Online:

“Keeping people in the dark about what might be possible in July and August is not helping anyone. Especially not the travel industry, which now has to reckon with the possibility that it may have to provide its services at the last minute after all. Hope doesn't pay employees' salaries, but planning security could save some of their jobs. Summer as we know it is cancelled. Most of us have suspected this for a long time. Now the Federal Government just needs to have the courage to make it official.”

Azonnali (HU) /

A historic opportunity

The coronavirus crisis could bring about a long overdue structural reform in Hungarian tourism, website Azonnali observes:

“The scenes of destinations such as Lake Balaton crowded with tourists which have been common in recent years are naturally no longer an option. The rise in mass tourism to the detriment of quality tourism was an own goal from the very start. ... We are being provided with the historic opportunity to create the basis for a more sustainable, quality holiday season at Lake Balaton that would be at least twice as long as the two months that have been the norm up to now. A brutal onslaught of tourists is not to be expected in these times of pandemic anyway, and this reduced form of tourism should not be concentrated only on the most popular holiday destinations. A better spatial and temporal staging could be achieved instead.”

Helsingin Sanomat (FI) /

Get young people interested in nature

The Finnish tourism industry must seek to attract new groups of customers, Helsingin Sanomat urges:

“The main attraction of Finnish tourism was the summer events, and they won't be held this summer. For a while the tourism industry will not be able to rely on Chinese or other foreign guests, so it must now focus on the Finns. In order to attract them, it needs new ideas - naturally within the framework of the epidemic restrictions. Especially among the younger generation there are people who are probably better acquainted with the nightlife in Berlin and the shops in Paris than they are with all the places you can go to here in Finland. One of the attractions of Finland is its pristine nature. But how do you attract those who until now haven't shown any interest in nature tourism?”