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Vaccine plea to European officials

The World Travel & Tourism Council has called on European governments to ramp up the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines so that the hospitality and leisure sector can survive the summer.

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO, WTTC, welcomed decisions from The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on the safety of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, but her plea came against a backdrop of disputes over supply and possible export controls by the EU – as well as increasing COVID-19 cases across mainland Europe.

And the UK government announced that from Monday, 29 March, those trying to leave the country without a valid reason could face fines of up to £5,000. Travel for holidays is set to be reviewed by 17 May, but with parts of Europe going back into lockdown this could be extended. While this would disappoint British residents trying to book breaks overseas, it could further boost the UK staycation market.

Speaking of European governments, Guevara said: “They now need to dramatically increase the roll-out so that we can revive international travel in time for the crucial summer season, so countless businesses through the embattled Travel & Tourism sector can be saved and holidaymakers can finally enjoy a break in the sun.

“We are very pleased that countries such as the UK and Israel have led the way with the rollout of vaccines, while in Europe, Serbia, Norway, Malta and Denmark have made tremendous strides in vaccinating their populations.

“This positive news comes just a day after the European Commission signalled its adoption of the Digital Green Certificate for member states across the EU, enabling them to welcome travellers with proof of vaccination, a negative test, or a positive antibody test.

“Once member states and the European Parliament embrace the Digital Green Certificate, which we hope will be in time for the busy summer period, and travellers and holidaymakers follow health and hygiene measures and adopt mandatory mask wearing, consumers can book their trips in confidence.”

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