On 19 January 2021, the European Commission took steps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on how it would accelerate the rollout of vaccination campaigns across the EU, with the aim to vaccinate a minimum of 70 per cent of the adult population by the summer of 2021.
Despite this promise, the latest figures for the vaccine rollout across the European Union (EU) shows the distribution and take up of the jab to be disappointing so far. The take up is around 5.5 per cent on average across all EU countries (as of 19 February), with Spain, Greece, France and Italy having between five and six per cent of their population vaccinated via vaccines produced in the EU after its rollout was hit by supply problems and delays.
This reflects unfavourably with a comparable distribution and uptake in the UK of around 25 per cent. And clearly this is worrying for everyone involved in the European travel, tourism and hospitality market.
No summer holiday season without international vaccine success
Unless the spread of the virus is halted to a level where international travel restrictions can be relaxed, then the upcoming European summer season of 2021 – on which many in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry sector are relying – will not happen.
The prospect of this would be disastrous for everyone involved in the sector: airlines, accommodation providers, restaurants and bars, and even taxis and car hire companies – they are all depending on a summer season this year.
To give an example, tourism represents 11.5 per cent of Spain’s GDP – a huge part of which is generated by beach holidays over the summer months. There are also the city breaks or visits.
And in the UK, for London alone, visits (which are both for business and leisure purposes), brought in £66.3 billion, or US$90 billion, in 2019, which represents in excess of 60 per cent of the total tourism revenue for the UK. Similar revenue streams from city break revenue is echoed across Europe in cities such as Paris, Berlin ,Prague, Rome, etc.
So, despite the UK’s success in vaccinating its own population, this will ultimately do little to help the International travel and tourism until and unless all other countries achieve the same end.
It’s clear that unless countries and governments across Europe (and elsewhere across the globe) achieve a high rate of vaccination before the start of the season, then they risk losing it, which might herald a collapse of epic proportions for the travel and tourism sectors.