Dutch tourism sector calls for 'three-country bubble' with Belgium and Germany

Dutch tourism sector calls for 'three-country bubble' with Belgium and Germany
Credit: Belga

The Dutch government should consider a "three-country bubble", including Belgium and Germany to at least secure some income from tourism, according to the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions (NBTC Holland Marketing).

This bubble, with countries that are economically important for the Netherlands, will be especially important for the Dutch economy if the European Union's Digital Green Certificate is not implemented by the start of the summer, NBTC director Jos Vranken argued.

"When looking at the greatest need for our tourism economy before this crisis, then you see that German and Belgian visitors made up 40% of the total visitors, so they represent a serious interest and could also strongly contribute to the recovery that is really needed," said Vranken on Tuesday to radio station BNR.

He added that he would present the issue to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs this week, as a bubble with Belgium and Germany could at least secure the arrival of visitors from those countries.

The ANVR, which represents the travel industry nationally and internationally, welcomed this proposal, but that it should not get in the way of developing a coronavirus checking app between countries, which should include others like Italy.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Saturday that the certificate is on track to be operational in June "to allow Europeans to enjoy a safe, relaxing summer."

Discussions on the travel pass have already taken place between different Member States' officials, and this week, the European Commission, Council, and Parliament will discuss the certificate further, including the technical implications.

However, Vranken pointed out that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte believed the European Union's system, which will allow for safe and free travel during the rest of the coronavirus crisis, will not be ready until August.

"We all want to return to a situation of free movement of people and goods, and we would prefer to do this in a European context, but at the moment, everything is up in the air with regards to the implementation of the European system. Dutch politicians recognise the importance of neighbouring countries," said Vranken.

Whether Belgium and Germany would be willing to be included in this bubble is unclear, as the Netherlands last weekend reported almost three times as many coronavirus contaminations as Germany and twice the number of cases reported in Belgium.

The Netherlands also lacks an organised, central system to register who has been vaccinated, which could further impede a possible bilateral agreement.

Negative travel advice applies in the Netherlands until 15 May.

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