The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament welcomes today’s communication of the European Commission on tourism and transport aiming to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on one of the most affected sectors of our economy. Resuming transport and tourism is vital for our citizens and businesses, as tourism enterprises are facing an acute liquidity crisis due to revenue losses reaching 50% for hotels and restaurants, 85% for tour operators, travel agencies and long-distance rail and 90% for cruises and airlines.
The financing made available by the European Commission must be used efficiently by the Member States, which should develop comprehensive recovery strategies to help those regions most severely affected by the crisis.
MEP José Ramón Bauzà Díaz (Ciudadanos, Spain), Renew Europe Group’s coordinator in the Committee on Transport and Tourism and Member of the Tourism Task Force (TTF) Steering Group in the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament, said the EU must go even further and elaborate on a Crisis-Management Mechanism to be activated when such crises occur:
“Today marks an important day. We appreciate the Commissions’ effort to put in place coordinated measures, common standards and a common EU approach, as part of the EU’s recovery plan from the COVID-19 outbreak. We see this as a first step to reassure citizens that travel to any EU Member State will be possible and safe during this summer. These days, more than ever, we need to enhance trust between travellers and businesses. Therefore, Renew Europe calls on the Commission to further elaborate on a Crisis-Management Mechanism, including a short, mid and long-term Strategy for the EU tourism sector, in order to be able to respond not only to the current, but also to future challenges. We need to make sure that no one is left behind and that the EU tourism sector will come out of this crisis stronger than before."
Passengers and travellers are also heavily affected by the corona crisis as flights were cancelled and borders closed. The Renew Europe Group welcomes the Commission’s recommendation on making voluntary vouchers more attractive, which could be a win-win for businesses and customers, but passengers rights must be preserved:
EP Vice President Dita Charanzová (ANO, Czech Republic), Renew Europe Group’s coordinator in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Shadow on the Package Travel Directive, said:
“We fully welcome the recommendations from the Commission and call for all Member States and travel companies to implement them immediately and to respect EU law.
Renew Europe supports the European Rights of Passengers. They should receive their refunds. While airlines and travel companies can offer vouchers, they must be voluntary. I encourage companies to give consumers incentives to pick and trust vouchers, including a higher credit value. Consumers should consider what is best for everyone, but it must be their choice and they must be made aware of their rights.”
MEP Jan-Christoph Oetjen (FDP, Germany), Renew Europe Group’s shadow rapporteur on Air Passengers Rights, added:
“We welcome that the Commission has been taking many of our ideas for making vouchers more attractive, like covering them by an appropriate insolvency protection and embraced the idea of credit-vouchers which could be refundable at an earlier stage if the passenger or traveller so requests. However, a recommendation still remains only a recommendation and not a EU binding common approach. Therefore, we call on the Commission on closely monitoring Members States actions on their possible application of this recommendation which ultimate goal should be to protect our passenger's and consumers' rights, while supporting our transport and tourism sector.”
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