Two years after the outbreak of the Coronavirus, the travel and tourism sector in Europe has finally started to get on its own feet again. With the majority of the European Union Member States having abolished most of the travel restrictions, the sector has been impatiently waiting for the summer season, starting the preparations earlier than ever before.
Yet, since the Russian military started the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, many are fearing the impact that the ongoing war may have on the already devastated travel sector in the continent.
While one might argue that the travel and tourism sector is not something one should worry about, while people are dying every day in Ukraine, migration experts at SchengenVisaInfo.com think differently.
“Over two million people from Ukraine have reached the EU countries only within the first two weeks of the invasion. While the UN expects the number to grow to four million by June, we believe that is going to happen way earlier,” the experts assert before making their point.
According to them, the EU countries need to be economically strong in order to be able to support the incoming refugees.
“Due to the pandemic, many workers in the sector have been laid off. Once the tourism sector fully recovers, not only will these workers get back to work, but there will also be new workplaces for the refugees, so that they can work, while waiting for the war to end. Look at Greece, the country has already announced there are 50,000 jobs available for Ukrainians reaching the country,” they assert.
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The same also claim that for now, there is no reason to cancel or postpone EU travel plans, pointing out that the EU countries themselves have not issued any travel warning against non-essential trips to other EU countries. The only travel warnings in effect due to the war are for Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, and none of the three is an EU member.
“It Is Absolutely Safe to Travel to Europe Now”
Unfortunately, Ukraine’s neighbouring countries will, without a doubt, be affected by the war when it comes to tourism. According to data revealed by ForwardKeys, the first week of the invasion saw the biggest falls in flight bookings in Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, and Poland, between 30 to 50 per cent.
A survey conducted by the MMGY Travel Intelligence has found that 62 per cent of Americans have listed the war in Ukraine expanding to nearby countries as a concern for travelling to the EU.
Regarding safety concerns for travel to the EU, the senior vice president of global intelligence for crisis response and risk management firm Crisis24, Mike Susong, said for AFAR that there are no reasons to be concerned about travel safety in the EU due to the distance between the warzone and sone of the top-visited EU countries.
“Brussels, Belgium is 1,300 kilometres [800 miles] from Lviv, Ukraine,” he says, making his point.
Whereas the air distance between Ukraine and some other top destinations for Americans and Britons, like Spain, Portugal, and Italy, is way bigger.
Moreover, the majority of airlines have not made any changes regarding their flight itineraries, though some of them who have used the Russian airspace in order to connect a third country with Europe had to amend their air travel routes. The move has, however, not affected travellers anyhow, aside from the trip in the air getting a bit longer.
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The chances that Russian authorities will move towards attacking another country are extremely low. In particular, since attacking an EU country means having to deal with the whole of the EU and their armies, as well as with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, since a large number of EU countries are also part of NATO.
“You Should Still Be Cautious”
However, experts advise travellers to undertake the necessary measures wherever and whenever they travel in Europe.
“If you move forward with your travel plans, I would advise doing so with an abundance of caution. Make sure to stay up to date with any changes in threat dynamics that could impact personal safety and the ability to move about freely,” says Greg Pearson, the chief executive of risk-management company FocusPoint International, for Washington Post.
One of the ways to be cautious is also by purchasing the right travel insurance. In particular, travellers who want to book trips way ahead are advised to purchase insurance that would cover them in case of cancelling a trip.
Some travel insurance companies now offer the option to purchase “cancel for any reason” travel insurance plans, which permit one to cancel a trip and get all of his or her money back, without even the need of giving a valid reason for doing so.
“If you fear that the situation might deteriorate, and as a result, you will need to cancel your plans and lose your money, you should get a purchase “cancel for any reason” travel insurance plan. Such plans will enable you to wait for your vacation without worrying what will happen to you money, in case you need to cancel your travelling plans, for whatever reason,” travel insurance experts from SchengenVisaInfo.com note.
Travel Medical Insurance policies for travelling to Europe can be purchased online directly on the AXA Schengen website or Europ Assistance.
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