The travel sector is bracing for several years of chaos on the back of the global coronavirus crisis which has already seen economies lose billions of pounds in tourism.
Social distancing for the foreseeable future means beaches, popular sights and hotels will be operating at a reduced capacity, allowing less visitors in – if any at all. Several countries have also warned of how resorts will implement two metre guidelines – particularly in public spaces.
Italian ministers have warned that holidays will never be the same again – with queues outside its once busy attractions, such as the Colosseum, set to be tightened in line with social distancing guidelines.
The country said it’s been one of the worst hit by the pandemic, with 27,967 lives claimed to date and billions wiped off its economy.
Spain, meanwhile, is still in talks to reopen its borders, but said UK travellers would most likely be off the cards.
Staycations also remain banned, with Brits facing £60 on-the-spot fines for ‘non-essential journeys’ amid a looming heatwave.
Airlines have also thrown the industry into chaos, with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair axing jobs after placing staff on the Government’s furlough scheme.
It raises important questions about how travel will get back on its feet once borders are relaxed across Europe.
So what’s the latest? We take a look below.
Italy’s Confturismo tourism board has warned that the crisis will cost its economy €22billion, with the country reporting 205,463 cases of coronavirus to date.
It’s not yet known when the measures, including restrictions on movement, will be lifted. Some medical experts advise that social distancing must continue until the end of the year.
Italy’s tourism secretary Lorenza Bonaccors, said: “It will take one or two years to get back to where we were, but 2020 might as well be written off.
“It is still impossible to say when Italy… will come out of the health emergency.
“This might be the time to move away from mass tourism, towards one more respectful of the environment.
“You will not see the long queues outside the Colosseum you used to.”
The tourism association Corti also thinks the industry will have to change.
They said: “Who will have the courage to get on a high speed Freccia Rossa (train) carriage filled with 80 passengers or a low-cost airline with 270?”
Spain’s death toll has been falling steadily over the past week, but holidays are still under discussion, Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto said.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, she said: “We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person…
“The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis.
“Therefore, I do not have the solution of when [they will be able to open].
“On how you will be able to enjoy our beaches, we are defining different scenarios.
“It is very important that the sanitary recommendations are maintained, we are going to have to internalise what we are already doing now, hand washing, social distancing … even on the beaches.
“Those patterns will be in our day to day for a time, you cannot take a step back.”
Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis has spoken about “specific new rules” for tourism during the coronavirus crisis.
Theoharis, who is set to hold talks with his EU counterparts tomorrow, said: “If we are to think of the possibility of travelling this year it has to be under specific new rules.
“We have to have new rules for hotels, new rules for beaches, new rules for pools, new rules for breakfast buffets, new rules for tour buses.”
The regulations could include temperature checks and blood tests as passengers land in the country.
In the same interview, Theoharis said he was looking to establish a common set of rules for EU countries that would allow people to move between country and at the same time make “economic sense”.
He said: “If, for example, you can only fly with 10 people on a plane to be deemed safe then obviously there will be no flight.”
The Institute of the Greek Tourism Confederation estimates that the country’s tourism industry will make just 30% of what it made in 2019 due to the pandemic, and there are fears for the knock-on effect on the economy.
But if the warm weather brings a reprieve, said says Greece could open to holidaymakers in July.
While this sounds like good news, it may only be available to those from eastern and central Europe if air links continue to be suspended.
He said: “Once measures are relaxed a good month will be required to prepare the ground for the [tourism] engine to get started.
“Tour operators are waiting and hoping we can come up with the right rules so that we can start bringing visitors in. We have to strike the right balance … be cautious, tough it out and make the best of it.”
Greece is expected to lose billions of euros in tourism as the mainland and islands close their borders to visitors, with 65% of hotels facing bankruptcy.
Cyprus could be back on the travel map by July – but not to British visitors.
The popular island, which has seen just 817 confirmed cases of the deadly coronavirus, still has strict lockdown measures in place – but ministers are keen to pick up its tourism levels again.
Officials say the island will see a loss of €1.5billion in tourism income as 60% of all holiday bookings are expected to be cancelled.
A new order is also to be introduced to allow tour agents to issue vouchers over refunds, while also prioritising domestic tourism as a method to bring money in to the tourism industry short-term.
Cyprus Deputy Ministry of Tourism, Savvas Perdios, said: “We hope to know in a few weeks when tourists will be able to come from these countries”.
He added: “The important thing is that travel agents have Cyprus in mind…there are positive signs from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries, Greece, Israel and perhaps the Netherlands.”
Turkey has plans to introduce a certificate for Brits to prove they don’t have coronavirus in order to be allowed to visit.
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said the normalisation phase in Turkey could begin as early as the second week of May.
He told local media that holidaymakers will need an official document detailing their health status while new measures are also to be introduced across the tourism industry.
The certification system will include three pillars covering transportation, facilities and passengers who use the previous two pillars.
He explained an immunity certificate would also be required of international visitors.
“This will probably be an example to the world that we have developed. By gradually including all NGOs in the commission, we aim to finalise this certification system quickly in the first week of May,” Ersoy said.
What about the UK?
Ministers are facing pressure to offer holidaymakers certainty after the Foreign Office upgraded its travel advice to warn against all non-essential travel abroad indefinitely.
Consumer group Which? said the restrictions, which were initially in place for 30 days until 15 April have now been extended for “an indefinite period”, will plunge travellers into “a huge amount of confusion”.
The Government has stated that essential travel is very straightforward.
We are only to go outside of our homes for food or health reasons or travelling to and from work but only where you cannot work from home. UK staycation breaks and travelling to second homes is also not allowed.
Holidaymakers will be unable to visit seaside towns or other tourist hotspots in the UK for “some time to come” as the coronavirus crisis continues.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told MPs last month that “at the moment and for some time to come” members of the public should not travel to visit popular British seaside resorts such as Cornwall.
Tory MP Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay) said: “Would the Secretary of State join me in thanking the Devon and Cornwall Police for their proactive approach in preventing people travelling to Cornwall for non-essential purposes including to visit their second homes and for a holiday.
“One of the biggest concerns of people in Cornwall is that as we start to ease the lockdown, we will start to see an influx of people coming to Cornwall and risk another wave.
“So can my right honourable friend assure me that as the Government considers lifting the restrictions, it will come with clear and enforceable travel restrictions to prevent this from happening?”
Gove replied: “My honourable friend is right, Cornwall is beautiful, visiting it is a pleasure, but at the moment and for some time to come, don’t.”
I have a holiday booked – should I cancel it?
Any holidays in the coming weeks will likely be cancelled by your provider, be that as a package holiday or with separate hotel and flight bookings.
You should receive a full refund within 14-days – though many airlines are warning of significant delays due to a rising volume of claims.
If you’ve been offered a holiday voucher instead, here’s how to swap it for a cash refund.