Summer holiday snub: UK miss out on crunch EU debate over re-opening tourist hot spots

Tourism ministers from EU countries will meet today to discuss steps to reopen their borders. Speaking via video conference, the bosses will agree on rules for holidaymakers travelling around the continent – but a representative from the UK was not invited to the talks, as Britain officially left the EU at the end of January.

The tourism ministers will discuss whether holidaymakers will need to have their temperature checked before being allowed to board planes.

Rules could also stipulate that passengers need to pass a coronavirus blood test or have a certificate stating that they are free from the deadly virus.

They hope to reach an agreement to allow countries to revive their tourism industries either in the summer or autumn months.

Some European countries, such as Greece, France and Spain, heavily rely on the tourism industry and have already started to push for restrictions to be lifted as soon as possible.

Harry Theoharis, the Greek tourism minister told The Guardian: “I will be pushing for agreement on a common set of [EU] rules.

“We need them if we are to start moving people from one country to another by road, air or sea.

“Temporary rules that will have to make economic sense.

“If, for example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight.”

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But British tourists are likely to be some of the last to be allowed to travel to many popular European holiday destinations, as the UK’s coronavirus figures are weeks behind most EU countries.

Many leaders have criticised the UK government for being too slow to react to the pandemic, with the UK’s lockdown being introduced several weeks after most countries on the continent.

Tenerife has suggested that international tourists, including those from the UK, won’t be allowed into the country until October.

Other countries are following suit, with Austria and Cyprus allowing tourists from countries with low coronavirus numbers – excluding the UK.

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Countries outside the EU, such as Turkey, are also looking to restrict Britons from visiting any time soon.

The country’s culture and tourism minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy explained that while flights could resume by the end of June, tourists from Asia will be allowed to enter first, followed by Russia and the Balkans.

Britons may be able to visit Greece however if they can prove they are free from the virus.

Greek officials have suggested that popular destinations will be open to holidaymakers by July, once lockdown restrictions have been relaxed.

But international visitors will have to provide immunity certificates or health passports to be allowed into the country.

Last year over 33million people flocked to Greece, bringing in €18.2billion (£15.8billion) to the economy.

But due to the coronavirus pandemic, the numbers are expected to be drastically lower this year.

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