New restrictions on US travelers another blow for Dutch tourism
On Monday the European Union implemented new travel restrictions on travelers from the United States, Israel and a number of other countries due to the deteriorating coronavirus situation in these countries. The travel sector in the Netherlands is disappointed in what will certainly be more lost income, announced on the same day that the Dutch government said it would stop most coronavirus support measures from October 1.
The travel restrictions apply to the United States, Israel, Lebanon, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo. EU member states are called on to implement stricter rules for travelers from these countries, such as mandatory quarantine and testing on arrival. In theory the member states can ignore this call, but none of the countries objected to the restrictions during the vote, according to NU.nl.
Dutch airline KLM will not respond until it is officially clear what the Netherlands will do. Over the past months, KLM has been carefully rebuilding its network to the United States. On Sunday, a KLM spokesperson told De Telegraaf that new travel restrictions would be a "huge step" backwards for the Dutch airline.
Barin, the umbrella organization for Dutch aviation, is dismayed by the EU decision, spokesperson Marnix Fruitema said to De Telegraaf. "Politics is not responding adequately, the traveler is again the victim. Because each European country can set its own rules, it could result in another patchwork quilt. Time and again we advocate European harmonization and once again the EU ignores it." According to him, the EU should rather have met with the US government and made bilateral agreements so that vaccinated travelers are welcome everywhere.
The travel restrictions took effect on the same day that the Dutch government announced that it was halting most coronavirus support measures for companies from October 1. In this new phase of the pandemic, the cabinet worries that continued support for entrepreneurs and employers "would hinder economic recovery," the responsible ministers said.
More restrictions and fewer travelers will also affect Schiphol airport. The Schiphol Group posted a loss of 158 million euros in the first half of this year. Air traffic is recovering, but the recovery is modest, the group, which also covers Eindhoven and Rotterdam The Hague Airport, said when presenting its figures last week. New travel restrictions will dampen that recovery.
On Monday, Schiphol Group CEO Dick Benschop told RTL Z that the company asked the government for more support in the second half of 2021. In the first half of the year, Schiphol Group got 40 million euros in support through various measures. "Not that we will get into trouble, but it's just that bridge, it helps us enormously, also to keep investments up," he said to the broadcaster.
Travel agencies' umbrella organization ANVR was also upset by the support ending. "Support will stop due to the end of the coronavirus measures, but the measures for travel outside Europe remain in force for our travel sector. The travel advice must be adjusted so that we can at least also offer travel outside Europe. That has been silent for a year and a half," the organization said to NOS.