The European Commission has launched “Re-open EU”: a web platform to support a safe relaunch of travelling and tourism across Europe.
The Re-open EU platform is part of the Commission’s Tourism and Transport package of 13 May 2020, launched to rebuild confidence among travellers in the EU and help European tourism resume safely, in line the necessary health precautions.
he Commission also announced its intention to build on the momentum of patronage voucher schemes and work with national authorities, local tourism organisations and businesses to multiply and scale up such initiatives.
Commenting on the move, World Travel and Tourism Council President and CEO, Gloria Guevara said: “WTTC welcomes the reopening of borders and the easing of travel restrictions across Europe, and applauds the European Commission (EC) recommendation to Schengen Member States to lift all internal border controls by June 15 and international travellers from July 1, as well as the recently announced website Re-open EU to help travellers plan their European holidays.”
She continued, “This important move will help encourage holidaymakers to begin travelling again, provide a vital boost to the Travel & Tourism sector, and kick-start the much-needed global economic recovery. We strongly urge EU Member States to follow the EC’s recommendation and coordinate efforts to restore a functioning Schengen zone as soon as possible. We are encouraged to see Spain and Germany working together on a new tourist pilot plan, which today saw the Balearic Island of Majorca welcoming its first visitors in three months. The new initiative saw all passengers and holidaymakers arriving from Germany receiving temperature tests upon arrival.”
Ministers responsible for tourism first discussed the launch of a dedicated Re-open EU platform during their 20 May video conference and broadly welcomed the initiative. Developed by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), Re-open EU offers real-time information covering some 30 indicators on transport, public health and tourism, provided by Member States and supplemented by data from European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
On 11 June 2020, the Commission presented its recommendations for a partial and gradual lifting of travel restrictions to the EU after 30 June and called on Member States to remove restrictions to free movement and lift internal border controls by 15 June, considering the improving health situation in the EU and the implementation of physical distancing and other health-related measures by Member States.
“Re-open EU” also includes practical information provided by member states on travel restrictions, public health and safety measures such as on physical distancing or wearing of face masks, as well as other useful information on EU and national tourism offers. This will allow Europeans to take responsible and well-informed decisions on how to manage continuing risks related to Coronavirus while planning their holidays and travels during this summer and beyond.
The Re-open EU website will provide travellers with easy access to information to help them confidently make their travel plans and stay safe during their trip.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “After weeks of confinement, EU internal borders are reopening. The Re-open EU website will provide travellers with easy access to information to help them confidently make their travel plans and stay safe during their trip. It will also help small restaurant and hotel owners, as well as towns across Europe, draw inspiration from innovative solutions developed by others.”
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, and responsible for the Joint Research Centre (JRC), said: “Europe’s vast and rich cultural heritage is one of our major assets. But with no possibility to travel and with most venues closed these past months, culture and tourism have been hit hard. The Re-open EU platform provides up to date, essential information so that we can start exploring Europe safely again”.
The new platform, which also comes with a mobile friendly version (a web-based app), acts as a key point of reference for anyone travelling in the EU as it centralises up-to-date information from the Commission and the Member States in one place. It will allow people to browse country-specific information, updates and advice for each EU Member State through an interactive map. It is easily accessible via app or website, and is available in the 24 official EU languages.
Furthermore, the platform includes information on patronage voucher schemes that allow consumers to show support for their favourite hotels or restaurants by buying vouchers for a future stay or meal once they reopen, to help the European hospitality industry as restrictions are lifted and borders reopen. Patronage vouchers help businesses to overcome cash-flow bottlenecks, with services provided later. The amount paid by the customer goes directly to the service provider. By setting up the dedicated page, the Commission intends to help better link participating businesses and interested customers, especially when travelling abroad.
Finally, Europe’s digital cultural platform, Europeana, is launching Discovering Europe, a collection of art works and photographs of some of Europe’s most iconic landmarks. Furthermore, a dedicated tourism hub will be created on Europeana Pro to help cultural heritage professionals discover initiatives supporting tourism throughout the EU.