Tourism has been hard hit by the coronavirus crisis and by the measures taken to contain its spread. As underlined recently by the European Commission, tourism is an important part of the EU economy. It generates foreign exchange, supports local and regional development and culture. Travel and tourism services contribute about 10 % directly and indirectly to EU gross national product (GDP), or slightly less if direct contributions alone are taken into account. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), tourism directly contributes, on average, 4.4 % of GDP, 6.9 % of employment and 21.5 % of service exports in OECD countries. The share of tourism in GDP is much higher in some EU countries (see Figure 1). Tourism is a particularly important sector for providing jobs for women and young people. Many jobs in tourism are seasonal, part-time and temporary. A majority of tourism enterprises are also micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
All EU destinations (like all other destinations in the world) have been applying coronavirus pandemic-related measures and travel restrictions. These include individual measures, such as the promotion of good hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as societal measures, such as social distancing and prohibition of public gatherings. Tourism businesses were also among the first to shut down. Most hotels, restaurants, tourism sites and attractions were closed during the peak of the crisis, and festivals and events were cancelled or postponed. Tourism businesses are also among the last to resume activities, and even when they do, they still have to apply strict health protocols and containment measures, meaning that they can operate only at restricted capacity. Restoring travellers’ confidence is also a huge challenge.