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Thursday,  June 13, 2024 12:47 AM 

Europe’s travel sector launches “Destination Summer” as restrictions ease

Europe’s travel sector launches “Destination Summer” as restrictions ease
"Destination Summer" aims to make the reopening of travel and tourism in Europe this summer a reality. (
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

With at least seven countries now issuing the EU Digital COVID Certificate, a health pass that will allow European citizens to travel throughout the bloc’s 27 nations without having to quarantine, Europe is getting ready for what could be a bustling summer season.

As such, the Airlines For Europe (A4E), Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) have together launched “Destination Summer,” a campaign aimed at resuming travel and reconnecting Europe.

The goal is to work with European Union and national policymakers to adopt a “harmonized approach” for the lifting of travel restrictions, IATA said on Thursday (June 3). 

READ MORE: 7 countries that are now using the EU’s COVID health pass

Thanks to ongoing vaccination efforts in Europe, growing scientific evidence around the efficacy of vaccines, increased testing capacities, and improvements in the epidemiological situation, “the prerequisites are now in place to enable the reopening of travel and tourism in a coordinated manner that is consistent with health measures and avoids unfair discrimination between vaccinated/non-vaccinated travellers,” IATA said in a release. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia. (Matthias Mullie)

The coalition is calling for a common European approach based on:

  • The restoration of freedom of movement in the EU, notably via the swift implementation of the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
  • The roll-out of affordable, reliable and rapid EU testing capabilities, as needed, that allow for the end of blanket quarantines and make use of the growing availability of antigen tests.
  • A push for a progressive resumption of non-essential international travel through a regular revision of the ‘EU White List’ – and by allowing entry into the EU for travellers coming from third-countries with a good epidemiological situation, and for those inoculated with EU-authorized vaccines.
  • The sector is encouraging European citizens wanting to travel again, aviation, travel and tourism companies, their employees and partners, to join the #destinationsummer campaign.

“According to a recent survey by IATA, 76% of people want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible. We have the means—with testing and vaccinations—to safely reconnect people and restart the travel and tourism sector in time for summer. We just need the will and coordination by governments to make it happen,” said Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice-president for Europe at IATA.

For more information, visit

Health pass in action

Seven countries across the bloc have already started using the EU’s new health pass system, the European Commission said on Monday (June 1), this being: Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Croatia and Poland. 

More countries are expected to join the list in the coming days and weeks, the EC said.

The QR code-enabled certificate, which is available in digital or paper form, and free of charge, provides proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, tested negative, or recovered from an infection.

READ MORE: “We can’t wait to roll out the green carpet”: Ireland to resume int’l travel using EU health pass

While the EU Digital COVID Certificate officially kicks in July 1, member states that have passed their technical tests, and are ready to issue certificates, can now start using the system on a voluntary basis.

Seven countries across the bloc hav started issuing the EU’s new COVID health pass system, the European Commission says.

While the EU Digital COVID Certificate is currently only available to Europeans, work on extending the pass to non-EU countries, such as a Canada, is underway.

Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen tweeted on Wednesday (June 2) that the EU has now passed 250 million vaccinations and that more than 80 million Europeans are fully vaccinated.

“We are on track to reach our goal: deliver enough doses to vaccinate 70% of the adult EU population in July,” she wrote.

An updated overview on the EU Digital COVID Certificate is available here.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has acknowledged that Canada is one of many countries exploring requirements for international travel, but has been cool towards mandating health passes on the domestic level.

A digital pass that would allow travellers to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, or recovery from the virus, may be added to the already-built ArriveCAN app, Health Minister Patty Hajdu told CBC News on May 1.

 Vaccine certificates will be on Canada's agenda at the upcoming G7 Summit in the U.K. from June 11-13.

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