Europe needs a recognized, standardized and independently audited inspection concept and certificate for low-risk tourism, accommodation, travel and events. In 2020, hotels across Europe recorded a slump in sales of 50 per cent, tour operators 70 per cent, and airlines 90 per cent. Tourism is the industry that has been hardest hit by Covid-19 in Europe. The aim is to regain trust from travellers and all industry players during the pandemic and post-pandemic period. In this regard, the TIC sector can make a major contribution.
Rather than regaining trust, this plethora of certificates and stamps sometimes causes confusion for users and operators. There are certification stamps from an economic development context, from industry associations, countries, regions, districts, etc. But from a user's point of view, these systems lack actual valid standards, independent auditing, and controls. All of this could be ensured by independent companies from the TIC sector – as this is their main area of expertise.
The “DEKRA Standard Trusted Facility” certificate is a proven success across Europe. It consists of a checklist of around 140 criteria in line with WHO guidelines for the Covid-19 pandemic. As a leading, innovative TIC company, we have been able to apply all of the knowledge and expertise that we have accumulated over the decades: a defined standard, experts with industry experience, clear guidelines on the approach and frequency of audits, and independent controls. This also includes having a clear understanding of future challenges in order to ensure the Standard is always up to date.
The European Union has shown a willingness to help make this a reality. Recently, DEKRA was invited by MEP Ismail Ertug – Tourism Coordinator of the S&D Group in the European Parliament – to take part in an EU web conference on this topic, which had a high-ranking attendance list. Ertug and top EU officials are in favour of swift action involving all stakeholders in order to provide the tourism sector with a professionally developed and harmonized solution. If the TIC companies can be involved, it would be a good opportunity for all.
The focus at the moment is on the tourism industry as it has been affected the most by the Covid-19 pandemic. But other industries could also benefit from hygiene and safety standards with pan-European certification. At the moment we are working with German stakeholders to develop a policy for the transport sector. The processes and business models in this industry are being significantly disrupted due to travel and quarantine rules. In this case too, an audit and certificate for adherence to pandemic and hygiene standards that are recognized throughout Europe could help to reduce bureaucracy, waiting periods, and the risk of infection for all.