Italy plans to use a national COVID pass to lure back travelers with the promise of a holiday without quarantines from mid-May.
“The pandemic has forced us to close down temporarily, but Italy is ready to welcome back the world,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said at a press conference Tuesday following a meeting of tourism ministers of the G20, which Italy currently presides over.
The ministers from the world’s largest economies also agreed that “common international approaches to COVID-19 testing, vaccination, certification and information” should be pursued to allow the “lifting of inbound and outbound border restrictions” as part of broader guidelines on the future of tourism.
Coordination is proving to be a key problem in lifting pandemic restrictions and getting travel restarted. The EU is racing to establish an EU-wide coronavirus pass by June, while tourism-dependent countries like Italy, Greece and Cyprus are rushing out their own measures.
There are also efforts to reopen Europe to travelers from countries like the U.S., which is doing well on vaccinations but doesn’t have an internationally recognized certificate. Other countries like Canada are also looking to slowly allow cross-border travel again.
The EU’s digital green certificate will be “fully operational” from the second half of June, and will allow tourists “to travel across countries without quarantine, so long as they can prove they have recovered from COVID-19, have been vaccinated or have tested negative recently,” said Draghi.
But he added that Italy won’t wait for the EU pass. From mid-May, tourists can get an Italian pass, he said. “So it’s time for you to book your holidays in Italy. We look forward to welcoming you again soon.”
Italy not only wants to launch its green pass scheme early, but also open it up to non-EU countries such as the U.S. and the U.K., Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia said.
Launching the Italian green pass in mid-May “will help us not to be competitively disadvantaged versus other countries that already have the green pass,” he said.
The loss of foreign tourists last year cost Italy €28 billion, according to Garavaglia. Other countries with big tourist sectors have also felt the impact of the pandemic, with the G20 ministers noting that last year tourist arrivals fell by almost three-quarters which cost 62 million jobs around the world.
“The resumption of travel and tourism is crucial for global economic recovery,” they said in a joint communiqué.
The “Rome” guidelines on the future of tourism, which G20 ministers endorsed Tuesday, highlight testing and vaccination certificates as a way to make “an individual biosecure risk assessment” of travelers.
That would require “international standards on the necessary type, timing, frequency and facility of testing and vaccinations,” the text reads.
Apart from safe mobility, the guidelines also cover other areas, including the tourism sector’s green and digital transitions.
Negotiators from the EU Council and European Parliament met for the first time Monday to discuss the digital green certificates. The Parliament wants the pass to be used to lift additional travel restrictions such as quarantines, but member countries insist that should be up to EU capitals.
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