EU Ministers Meet: COVID-19 Passport, Cro Card and More

By 28 April 2020

European Union ministers have met to discuss the state of European tourism, and a document, known as the COVID-19 passport, that would be valid for all EU countries, was discussed. Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli discussed the issue after a video conference of EU tourism ministers on the state of European tourism, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the measures and conditions for tourist arrivals.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of April, 2020, such a document, which some have dubbed the COVID-19 passport, refers to the health and safety part of the travel protocol, HRT reported.

Cappelli also said that it has been agreed that there should be a common plan in place to overcome the coronavirus crisis, regardless of individual countries and their respective stances.

Tourism accounts for 10 to 11 percent of the EU's GDP and employs 12 percent of its total staff.

Cappelli also said that things were made very clear about the short-term recovery fund. In the budget until 2027, tourism wasn't as prominent in the first package, but in view of coronavirus, this situation is completely changing, the united view of all countries is that for tourism, we'll have to make a big step forward in the budget.

''Tourism is the key to strengthening, that is, saving national economies,'' Cappelli said, citing examples of other countries which rely heavily on tourism in addition to Croatia, such as Italy, Spain and Greece.

Responding to a reporter's question about the possibility of establishing a tourist corridor, he hoped to reach an agreement on the matter by the end of May, if not in a common area, then bilaterally with interested countries partaking.

"We already have a respectable number of countries that are interested," Cappelli said.

Cappelli also said the Cro Card remains in the works.

''The Cro Card will be used only in Croatia, it will amount to 2500 kuna tax-free, and we'll see if we can do something extra in this area, we'll see if we get additional discounts,'' said Cappelli.

Asked by reporters whether there would be price adjustments for domestic tourists, Cappelli replied that the market would do its job and that part of the accommodation capacities in the country would respond and give some discounts.

Answering a journalist's question on whether entry would be allowed only to those who had acquired immunity, he replied that he would not go into detail on that, adding that we must first create a common protocol, so that the same rules apply on arrival and departure.

''All countries are working on preparing the document, we're all there together,'' said Cappelli.

On the eve of the meeting, Cappelli announced that he would also discuss the possibility of opening tourist routes and traffic as the relaxation of the anti-epidemic measures begin, including the issues of opening borders and country-specific initiatives on the so-called tourist bridges (for example, as suggested by the Czechs towards Croatia).

Tourism is the most affected sector in the coronavirus crisis and needs generous assistance within the European Union's long-term recovery plan, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said earlier. He added that EU-wide annual hotel and restaurant revenue could fall by at least 50 percent and cause losses for tour operators, cruise companies, travel agencies, airlines, which reach up to 70 percent.

The European Association of Travel Agencies and Tour Operators (ECTAA) has called on the European Commission and EU tourism ministers to step up their efforts and devise a more meaningful bailout package and a properly coordinated exit strategy for the tourism and travel industry from the coronavirus crisis.

For more on coronavirus and the COVID-19 passport as we get it, follow our dedicated section.