Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Plan for Europe’s Tourism & Aviation – The SME Perspective

💬 Once the #outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the global #travel and #tourism industry to recover. The sector currently accounts for 10% of global #gdp and #jobs, 7 Million of which belong to #Europe

We believe it crucial to develop a step by step recovery plan to avoid policies being generic and ineffective. This was discussed 💬 during our #webinar on April 15th, 2020, with institutional actors and SMEs and decision-makers and business organization representatives from the tourism and the aviation Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar MEP, Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, Georgios Kyrtsos MEP, Member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs as well as Member of the Committee on Budgets, Helmut Hirner, Obmann, Österreichischer Verein für Touristik (ÖVT), Montserrat Barriga, Director General, European Regions Airline Association, and Claudia Schmidt, ret. MEP, and SME Connect’s Advisor for Tourism, Transport and Infrastructure.



Claudia Monteiro de Aguiar MEP welcomed the attendees with a speech about the importance of tourism for many European Member States and economies. She highlighted the value of thinking forward and anticipating the next steps for a successful recovery to create a guide for recovery valid throughout Europe as a joint venture between European institutions, national governments and the tourism value chain. This idea was further developed by Georgios Kyrtsos MEP who advocated the need for synchronized action at different governance levels due to the fact that the COVID-19 crisis affects both demand and supply in the tourism sector, either directly through contagion or indirectly through restrictive measures.

Helmut Hirner put forward the perspective of SMEs and their difficulties during the crisis. The lack of common standards and a harmonized European response makes navigating the crisis particularly difficult for SMEs as they cannot refund 100% to clients, as per the Package Travel Directive. For this reason, clear and uniform rules are necessary at a European level to provide SMEs the appropriate tools to emerge from the crisis with the help from national governments and European institutions.

Despite the aviation industry being particularly resilient, the COVID-19 outbreak threatens to revolutionize the sector as we know it, Montserrat Barriga stated. In fact, it is not only the immediate economic impact, but we must also consider the long-term psychological effects of the pandemic which could inhibit the future recovery of the industry.

Lastly, Claudia Schmidt reframed the discussion within a European perspective by emphasizing the importance of tourism for economic and cultural exchanges for European cohesion and unity. Planning in the medium term and ensuring the survival of domestic SMEs and family businesses will promote sustainable tourism practices, while at the same time boosting economic recovery.

Ultimately, while the COVID-19 poses a great challenge to the European economy, it should be also regarded as an opportunity to grow more resilient and more creative in order to proactively shape the future.