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    European Commission moves to save summer tourism

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    The European Commission on Wednesday called on EU member states to gradually reopen internal borders where the health situation allows.

    The Commission presented a series of recommendations to “offer people the chance to get some well-needed rest, relaxation and fresh air.” 

    “As soon as the health situation allows, people should be able to catch up with friends and family, in their own EU country or across borders, with all the safety and precautionary measures needed in place,” the Commission said. 

    “It won’t be a normal summer,” said the Commission’s Margrethe Vestager, “but if we all make an extra effort, we won’t be forced to stay blocked at home, and the summer season won’t be lost entirely for the touristic sector.”

    The Commission called for “a common approach to restoring free movement and lifting restrictions at EU internal borders in a gradual and coordinated way.”

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    The Commission also published guidelines for the safe transport of passengers and criteria for health protocols that hotels and other forms of accommodation should follow in order to protect the health of guests and employees.

    In particular, the Commission stressed the need for sufficient capacity in health systems – for the local population and for tourists – and for reliable surveillance, monitoring and testing capabilities, as well as contact tracing.

    The Commission also insisted on the possibility of using vouchers in case of cancellation of transport tickets or package tours, pushing to make vouchers as they are more attractive than cash refunds for tour operators in urgent need of liquidity.

    Freely accepted vouchers should be protected against the insolvency of the issuer, have a minimum validity period of 12 months and be redeemable after a maximum of one year if they are not used.

    Travellers should also be given sufficient flexibility, allowing them to keep the same travel itinerary with identical service conditions or to conclude a package travel contract providing for the same type of services or of equivalent quality. Vouchers should also be transferable to another traveller. 

    The Brussels Times