Malta has called for the establishment of safe travel corridors between EU countries and regions, including the island itself, which have successfully managed the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was included among six tourism revival proposals that Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli presented to EU Tourism Ministers during a virtual meeting today.
“Malta pushed forward the concept that countries shouldn’t wait for a vaccine before taking action,” Farrugia Portelli said. “Countries should immediately start setting out clear protocols on travel, accommodation, restaurants and other issues, as well as a clear strategy on the revival of tourism.”
She said such a plan should take into consideration Malta’s geographical reality as an island, which means that flights are crucial to connect it to the rest of the world.
These are Malta’s six proposals for EU-wide action to revive the tourism industry:
1. A strong commitment towards re-opening the tourism sector, including new protocols for flights, accommodation and entertainment to effectively manage risks posed by COVID-19
2. The designation of safe corridors between territories and regions which, like Malta, have successfully managed the pandemic.
3. EU grants to the tourism industry as an investment for the wider recovery of economies.
4. EU financial aid to airlines, bearing in mind that aviation is Malta’s main bridge to the outside world.
5. A clear EU strategy on the package travel directive that acknowledges the rights of consumers to refunds but also protects the travel sector from collapse.
6. Investment in the upskilling of the workforce and the upgrade of tourism product to make the industry more sustainable
Meanwhile, Malta joined Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria in presenting a joint statement to the European Commission calling for strong financial allocation for tourism in its recovery plan that is being drafted.
“It is imperative that this plan addresses national specificities, particularly island state economies like Malta, which are dependent on international tourism, and the introduction of new protocols so that tourism can be re-opened,” Farrugia Portelli said. “The statement calls for short and long-term measures to assist those tourism associated sectors in mitigating the COVID-19 effects.”
“The statement also acknowledges that the countries situated on the EU periphery are the worst affected and underscores the importance of assisting airlines securing their connectivity.”
Cover photo: DOI: Pierre Sammut