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Jul 27, 2020
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BERLIN (AP) — Europe’s tourism revival is running into turbulence only weeks after countries opened their borders, with rising infections in Spain and other countries causing increasing concern as authorities worry about people bringing the coronavirus home from their summer vacations.

European countries started opening up to each other’s tourists in mid-June, but recent events have shown that the new freedom to travel is subject to unpredictable setbacks. Over the weekend, Britain imposed a 14-day quarantine on travelers arriving from Spain, Norway ordered a 10-day quarantine for people returning from the entire Iberian peninsula, and France urged its citizens not to visit Spain’s Catalonia region.

In Austria, the lakeside resort town of St. Wolfgang shortened bar opening hours after an outbreak was detected on Friday. By Monday, 53 people had tested positive, including many interns working in the tourism industry.

In Germany, officials decided last week to set up testing stations at airports to encourage people arriving from a long list of countries deemed high-risk — including traditionally popular destinations such as Turkey — to get tested. They will also allow people to get tested elsewhere for free within three days of arrival.

“We are still very concerned about holidays,” Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, said Monday. “My worry is not that there will be one big Ischgl, but that there will be many mini-Ischgls,” he added, referring to the Austrian ski resort that was an early European hot spot in March.

“We are already seeing this in Spain, but also in other places,” he said, adding that German residents’ trips to visit families abroad are also a concern. Soeder called for tests of returning vacationers from risky areas at airports to be made obligatory, something that the federal government is considering.

A tourist take photos in town of Sóller, in the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain on July 27, 2020.
A tourist take photos in town of Sóller, in the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Spain on July 27, 2020.
“Mostly it is the considerate people who have behaved very cautiously on vacation anyway who take up the voluntary offers, while those who are more careless don’t take a voluntary test,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, told RBB Inforadio. New infections in Germany have been creeping higher from a low level.

Tourism employs 2.6 million people in Spain and generates 12% of the country’s economic activity.

Juan Molas, the head of a national association of tourism companies, Mesa del Turismo, said Spain’s tourism sector has on average lost 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion) a week since March.

Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said the Spanish government is trying to persuade the U.K. to exempt the Balearic Islands, which have a relatively low infection rate, from the quarantine rule.
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