Nine tourism ministers across southern Europe including representatives from Spain and Italy have signed a declaration to reignite the travel industry. In joint letter officials from Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain have all called on Government’s to step up coronavirus exit strategies.
The group specifically highlights the need for the air industry to be re-started as it is vital for the economy and employment across Europe.
The declaration states air transport “is key for tourism and for our economies, for its contribution to economic activity and employment”.
The letter added: “Therefore, we must facilitate access to liquidity to airlines.”
Maltese Minister for Tourism and Consumer Protection Julia Farrugia Portelli is leading calls for the aviation sector to restart, amid fears the Island nation – geographically cut-off from mainland Europe – will disproportionally suffer.
Ms Portelli describes the travel industry as the country’s “main bridge to the outside world”.
The minister outlined a plan for airlines to be able to fly with a reduced number of passengers to ensure safety requirements.
Ms Portelli said airlines should be “supported accordingly to make it more viable for them to fly at, presumably, below capacity levels”.
According to Gari Cappelli, Croatia’s tourism minister, the travel industry represents more than 10 percent of the EU’s GDP and employs almost 12 percent of the workforce.
On Wednesday the EU’s 27 transport ministers will meet to discuss how to align measures to relax lockdowns.
Earlier this month European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen paved the way for summer holiday to take place this year.
Ms von der Leyen said: “I think we are going to find smart solutions for having a summer vacation.
“Maybe a little different, with other hygiene measures, with a little more social distance, but it is impressive to see that we will find solutions.”
Research from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found Spain remains the number one summer holiday destination for Britons.
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In 2018, the International Passenger Survey (IPS) found more than 13 million Britons visited mainland Spain or Spanish Islands on their break.
Italy was in second most popular destination with Portugal, Greece and France making up the top five.
Spain has been one of the worst hit nations by the global health crisis with coronavirus infections soaring above 200,000 and more than 20,000 deaths.
The Spanish health ministry has confirmed a further 301 people have died from COVID-19, down from 331 on the previous day.
The total number of fatalities now stands at 23,882 with more 210,773 confirmed cases.
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