European countries could open up "tourist corridors" this summer between countries that have brought outbreaks of the coronavirus under control.
- Some European countries could open "tourist corridors" this summer linking the places least affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
- The idea would allow some beach resorts to reopen in time for the peak summer season.
- The Czech Republic is said to be considering plans to create a corridor with Slovakia and Croatia; all three have experienced relatively few cases of the virus.
- Countries such as Spain, Italy, and the UK, which are dealing with widespread coronavirus outbreaks, appear unlikely to be included for consideration in any early trials.
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Some European countries are pushing plans to create "tourist corridors" this summer to allow some of the continent's beach resorts to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism ministers from European Union countries held a video conference Monday and discussed plans that would allow the places least affected by the pandemic to restart their tourism industries, The Times of London reported Tuesday.
They discussed opening so-called tourist corridors linking countries with strict social-distancing rules and testing programs, which could allow them to contain any outbreak of infections at a resort, The Times reported.
The Czech Republic is said to be considering creating one such corridor with Slovakia and Croatia; all three countries have relatively few known cases of the virus.
Malta, the Mediterranean island nation that relies heavily on tourism, also backed the idea of tourist corridors, calling for "safe corridors between territories and regions which, like Malta received praise for its successful management" of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Politico's Brussels Playbook.
Countries such as Spain, Italy, and the UK — which have all suffered from widespread coronavirus outbreaks — would be unlikely to be included in any early trials of such a plan.
Still, tourism industry leaders in Majorca, Spain — a hugely popular spot for British vacationers — are still pressing for resorts to open this year, The Sun reported.
Beaches could reopen with strict social-distancing measures
An alternative plan under consideration would allow member states to agree on guidelines for reopening resorts or beaches with restrictions meant to prevent them from becoming overcrowded, The Times reported.
One Italian company has already started producing plexiglass beach boxes, which could allow sunbathers to use resorts on the Adriatic coast while maintaining social distancing.
The plans come as governments urgently look for ways to open one of the industries worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with international travel effectively grinding to a halt since March.
The EU's tourism industry is a significant part of its economy. Figures from 2018 indicate the industry contributed directly and indirectly to 10.3% of the bloc's gross domestic product and accounts for 11.7% of total employment.
Some EU officials are cautious about reopening resorts, however.
"We saw the role played by infection clusters in ski resorts this winter, so the last thing we want to do is repeat that on a large scale as frustrated people dash out lockdowns to popular holiday destinations," one EU official told The Times.