COVID-19 novel Coronavirus outbreak affecting travels in Europe

The world is now holding its breath to know how the coronavirus outbreak will pan out in the coming weeks. It is affecting deeply the travel industry. The United Kingdom Foreign Office advice about travelling to some parts of Northern Italy has changed. What is the status in regards to flights, tours, and holiday insurance?

The tourism industry must ready itself for a rough ride as COVID-19 spreads across Europe. FCO advises against all non-essential travels to Italy. WHO also warned that the world is not ready for this pandemic.

The head of R&A, Nick Wyatt said, “If there was previously a temptation to view the coronavirus as a Chinese or Asian issue, developments this week must force a shift in mindset. Italy is now on lockdown. It is readily apparent that the impact is likely to be on a more global scale than was perhaps previously envisaged.”

Italy under Lockdown

The novel coronavirus outbreak has seriously affected Italy. It is now under total lockdown after more than 1ooo people died since the beginning of the outbreak. The normally crowded places in Venice are now empty as the country has literally paused its life. 

In Europe, hotels have fewer bookings due to fewer Chinese tourists. There are already guests who have been confined at a hotel after one guest and an Italian doctor tested positive for the virus. A hotel in Austria was locked down after its Italian receptionist also tested positive. In Greece, there is also more than 100 confirmed case. There are 1000 cases in France and 60 of them have died already. There are still no travel bans in place for other European countries.

The travel industry deeply affected

South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran are some of the countries that have the largest confirmed cases outside of China. As one of the country’s major inbound tourism markets, Europe is now feeling the effect of lesser tourists coming from China. Travel from China to Europe went down by 41.7% within 3 weeks following the travel ban.

The official tourism bodies are calling for cooperation across Europe that includes a measured evidence-based response to details given by the FCO, the WHO and health officials. 

Europe borders are still open

On Wednesday 11 March, at a press conference at the Ministry of Health in Rome, Stella Kyriakides, the EU Commissioner for Health, said that the commission welcomes “keeping the borders open” across the EU instead of resorting to what could be considered disproportionate and inefficient measures. She also said, “This is a situation of concern but we must not give in to panic and we must be vigilant of misinformation and disinformation.”.

If you decide to travel – useful information

The coronavirus outbreak puts huge pressure on airlines and travellers. Before going abroad, remember to make sure your passport is still valid. If you want to renew a passport, click here > We also recommend you to travel with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). To know more about the EHIC, click here >

Richard Howard