EEIA urges coordinated approach to business travel

The European Exhibition Industry Association (EEIA) has released its latest position paper of the European Exhibition Industry Alliance: ‘An urgent call for a coordinated approach to business related travel’.

The EEIA welcomes the European Commission proposal to focus on a person-based approach for travel instead of a country-based approach as applied so far. The European Union Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC), having become a standard within and beyond the EU, has become a recognised proof and the EEIA believes the aim must be to avoid any diverging rules throughout the EU.

Following the first vaccination campaign, the booster vaccinations are being rolled out across the EU countries. The position paper calls for the validity of the EU DCC to therefore be adapted, to avoid different periods of validity.

Additionally, the European Digital Passenger Locator Form should be applied, EEIA believes, by all member states to standardise passenger data collection and avoid the need for passengers to provide data for each travel in different forms and formats.

The position paper also calls for the list of essential travellers to continue to include exhibitors, visitors and providers to exhibitions, trade fairs and professional conferences. Even though most of these business travellers may have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated or even received boosters, it will be essential to keep this part of travel open given the latest developments and new travel restrictions implemented by EU countries. The EEIA acknowledges the need for an ‘emergency break’ procedure in particularly serious situations. Additionally, exhibition and conference centres are functioning as vaccination centres, thus contributing actively to the protection of Europe’s population.

EEIA sees the need to adopt the recommendation for intra-EU travel as quickly as possible, before the Christmas travel period starts. Negative effects on forward bookings have already been registered and exhibitions and business events have been cancelled. The outlook to standardised, easy procedures and open borders would hopefully mitigate the effects of the current Covid situation on next year’s planning.

EEIA fully supports the recognition of all vaccines that have completed the WHO emergency use listing process. The additional PCR test for non-EMA approved vaccines and for recovered travellers seems a reasonable safeguard. The acceptance period of vaccinations shall be the same as for intra-EU travel, to avoid discrimination and confusion. EEIA also strongly welcomes the proposal to update the thresholds for lifting restrictions to non-essential travel from countries with a good epidemiological situation.

The EEIA hopes that, ideally before March 2022, the streamlined approach focussing on the status of the traveller instead on the country of departure should be in place. However, attendees and service providers to trade fairs, exhibitions and professional events must be considered essential travellers to avoid any further disruption of the exhibition sector in Europe.