Policy Article

Recreation through Freedom of Travel: Why Southern Europe Needs Tourism in the Corona Crisis

Kiel Policy Briefs, 144 Download

The restrictions on freedom of travel and far-reaching infection control measures in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are challenging the existence of many tourism businesses, particularly in the holiday countries of Southern Europe, which is exacerbating the economic crisis in the tourism-intensive EU countries. The authors show that especially smaller holiday countries like Malta, Cyprus and Croatia are almost completely dependent on foreign tourism. In absolute overnight stays, the large holiday countries in the "South" of the EU, Spain and Italy, are facing the biggest slumps. In many Southern European holiday destinations, the season is heavily concentrated in the summer half of the year, which means that some holiday destinations are threatened with total losses unless foreign tourism is quickly revived. Losses in tourism would be extremely painful for the holiday countries of Southern Europe, as the economic weight of tourist services there is in some cases very much higher than the EU average. The comparatively poor holiday countries of Southern Europe are therefore dependent on a timely revival of their tourism business in order to generate income from the export of services. The authors point out that the holiday countries need a functioning Single European Market just as much as the goods exporter Germany. They warn that the alternative to reviving foreign tourism would be an expensive reconstruction of the tourism infrastructure in the South of the EU, which would be primarily at the expense of the net contributors.