November 25, 2020

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Coronavirus: Travel boss urges EU to relax curbs on Chinese visitors

China has lifted its coronavirus ban on selling holiday packages, meaning the Hannover-based TUI Group can resume business. The group wishes the EU would consider doing the same.

The Chinese arm of Germany’s TUI AG, the world’s biggest tourism group, has resumed sales of holiday packages in China, said the company on Sunday. It also urged the EU to lift travel restrictions put in place to curb the coronavirus.

“We now see a significant backlog of demand for holidays. TUI China will in the coming weeks broaden its offers step by step,” said Chief Executive Fritz Joussen in a statement.

China introduced widespread restrictions on travel and civil life, initially affecting Wuhan, after the novel coronavirus broke out in the Chinese city in December, 2019. Since then, restrictions on movement have been implemented by governments worldwide, disrupting the global travel and tourism sector.

The Chinese arm of the Hamburg-based group said its activities had been halted in China for three months. Company offices stayed open in capital city Beijing and Shanghai during the crisis, but they were not allowed to sell holiday packages, due to a sale ban enforced by the Chinese government. The ban has now been lifted.

TUI China will initially sell short breaks in mountain and beach resorts. Other packages include trips within larger cities.

EU should make a travel ‘timetable’

Joussen also urged the EU to develop a “timetable” to see travel re-instated across the bloc and “make holidays possible in 2020.” Much of Europe closed borders across the bloc from mid-March and enforced temporary travel restrictions – usually, citizens from EU Schengen zone countries can travel freely through the bloc with no border checks.

Joussen cited Greece, Cyprus, Spain, Austria and Bulgaria as making progress towards re-opening resorts.

Summer holidays canceled?

Travel and tourism company revenues have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently estimated that the airline industry will use up a total of $61 billion (€55 billion) in the second quarter this year, with passenger fleets grounded globally.

But travel within the EU bloc does not look likely any time soon. Germany’s Foreign Ministry said its strict warning against global travel would remain in place “until further notice,” and not before June 14.

China has seen a surge of visitors to newly reopened tourist spots on Saturday and Sunday after domestic travel restrictions were relaxed ahead of a five-day holiday that runs through Tuesday. But travel within China continues to remain difficult because some regions, including Beijing, have maintained movement curbs to guard against a second wave of infections.

(DW)