When it rains it pours, a saying that rings true today for tourism. Italy and Spain, the two European countries hit hardest by COVID-19, with both economies highly dependent on tourism activities, struggle to come out of the crisis. Due to the fear that this year may be catastrophic for traveling due to worldwide restrictions, two professors from the Spanish business school ESADE, Miquel Oliu and Bary Pradelski, have suggested setting “green areas” at European level that could help offset this impact and save the tourist season.
The proposal is based on a reopening strategy that countries like France and Spain have been enabling as a means to monitor unnecessary travel and ensure what has been called “a gradual and asymmetric” ease of coronavirus lockdown. On this basis, the experts suggest that once the provinces have reported back that the pandemic is under control, traveling between one and the other is allowed and that this plan is also enabled across Europe between different regions.
It is also recommended labeling the areas “green” or “red” (for under control and risk of spread, respectively), based on homogeneous criteria that should be determined by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Regions with this ‘green label’ would become part of a certified network of green areas where travel and tourism would be deemed safe and allowed. Given its current levels of spread and control on the pandemic, the Balearic Islands could, for example, receive this green label so that travel between the islands and German regions (also with this label) would be allowed.
To the experts, this could be a great way to save the tourist season in countries where tourism is decisive for their economies. In Italy and Spain, trips between June and October represent 60% and 65% respectively of the total annual tourist flow.
Oliu and Pradelski admit that such a plan can only be considered at a Pan-European scale – in fact, they suggest including countries outside the Schengen Area – and stress that this is the result of the poor actions taken by the European Commission during the pandemic, who was unable to put together a coordinated and firm strategy during the first phase of the pandemic.
The full pan-European approach thoughts to save tourist season could be found here.