“Corona Corridors” Could Jumpstart European Tourism

Countries that have successfully limited COVID-19 are looking to team up, creating travel bubbles throughout the continent

“Corona Corridors” Could Jumpstart European Tourism
Marcus Löfvenberg/Unsplash

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Europe contributes a titanic $830 billion (good for 30%) to the globe’s Travel & Tourism GDP each year. The continent is highly dependent on travelers from around the world — 600 million foreign tourists arrive each year — but it also relies on travel between the 27 member nations of the EU (along with the United Kingdom). The EU is still closed to external visitors through June 15, and that date will probably even be pushed back, but countries within Europe are looking to reopen their borders on an ad hoc basis, and possibly catalyze local travel over the back half of what has been a miserable year.

In that vein, a method that’s gaining traction is the concept of “corona corridors,” or “travel bubbles,” where nations that have experience similar success in fighting COVID-19 (due to solid preparation or fortunate happenstance) and geographical proximity would pair up and waive travel restrictions or 14-day quarantine expectations. The idea is to give Europeans an opportunity to stretch their legs — and dig into their wallets — in places that could really use visitors. Potential bubbles so far include: Czech Republic-Slovakia-Croatia, Greece-Cyprus-Israel, and Estonia-Latvia-Lithuania.

Europe has six countries in the top 10 for total deaths from COVID-19 (the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Belgium and Germany), each with 8,500-plus, but the countries listed in the corridors listed above, along with places like Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Finland and Norway have all reported less than 350 deaths. Air travel is a bit of a wrench in travel bubble planning, and over in Oceania, Australia and New Zealand (which have had a combined 125 deaths from coronavirus) are trying to hash out plans for resumed back-and-forth travel in a landscape where airlines are flying a minuscule fraction of aircraft.

But for Europe, which has a landmass of similar size to the United States, and many nations smaller even than states in America’s Northeast (you can drive clear through Lichtenstein in under an hour), a resumption of road trips makes a lot of sense. Travel specialists are still expecting a “D+ year,” and the Mediterranean will be hit especially hard, but beginning in mid-June, corona corridor vacations could hit the mainstream.

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