Reticent about reinstating large scale lockdowns and travel restrictions on an already crumbling travel sector, governments across the globe have been bracing for – and dreading -- a second coronavirus wave. But that's the reality Europe is facing right now.
Despite a brief reprise where easing of travel rules resulted in increased leisure trips, a recent jump in infections in a number of European regions is proving to have immediate implications for travel.
A number of countries in Europe including Luxembourg, Germany, Italy, Sweden, France have all registered a recent spike in new cases, with Spain reflecting the biggest jump in infections.
Only weeks after the U.K. included Spain on a list of countries safe for holiday travel, it surprised many tourists over the weekend when it announced it would remove Spain from its quarantine exemption list. The WTTC called the move a “bitter blow” for travellers and said local lockdowns, not broader travel restrictions would be a better solution.
Also in response to Spain's sharp rise in infections, TUI UK, the country’s biggest tour operator, suspended all its holidays to mainland Spain through 09AUG. France has advised its citizens to avoid travelling to the most affected Spanish regions and Norway announced a 10-day quarantine for people returning from Spain.
The Spanish government has maintained the regional outbreaks are isolated and under control, and the country is safe for Spaniards and visiting tourists.
These kinds of sudden restrictions would be the “new normal” for short-haul flights in Europe, Mark Manduca, managing director at Citi Research, told CNBC.
Analysts at financial services company Jeffries added the U.K. policy could "negatively impact customer booking confidence," suggesting that tourists might opt for stay-cations or simply not take a vacation at all this summer.
Some analysts anticipated the summer months in Europe to be quieter in terms of new cases, associating the winter season, when people tend to get colds and flus, as the most likely period for a second wave in the region.
Adding to the concern is the fact that this rise in cases may not even be the professed "second wave." Disease specialists have argued it may just be a continuation of the first wave, and some suggest the number of infections would have to reach low single digits in a country for the first wave to be classed as over.
Other parts of the world, including India and Hong Kong, have also been reporting higher numbers of infections. At the same time, the situation in the United States and Latin America is far from being under control.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.