EU says volcanic ash costs tourism industry 1 billion euros

09:36, April 29, 2010      

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Iceland Volcano (Photo:

The ash cloud resulting from a volcanic eruption has caused economic damages of 1 billion euros ( 1.32 billion U.S. dollars) to the European tourism industry, the European Commission said on Thursday.

"The first estimates for the losses incurred by the tourism sector almost reach the one billion euro mark," Antonio Tajani, vice president of the commission, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, said in a statement after an ad-hoc video conference with tourism ministers of European Union (EU) member states.

The video conference was designed for an exchange of views on the impact of the volcanic ash situation on the European tourism industry, in particular on the accommodation and the tour operators and travel agents sectors.

Europe was hit last week by an unprecedented crisis with the closure of airspace due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland leading to more than 100,000 canceled flights and more than 10 million passengers unable to travel.

The commission estimated on Tuesday that the volcanic ash crisis has caused economic damages between 1.5 and 2.5 billion euros (2 and 3.3 billion U.S. dollars) to European air industry. It proposed a set of measures to help airlines, including state aid.

Tajani said while the effects were still unclear on hotels and other accommodation services due to the combined effect of non- arrivals and tourists waiting to leave, tour operators and travel agents suffered considerably as a result of the situation.

It was estimated that tour operators and travel agents have up to now spent more than 388 million euros (513.9 million U.S. dollars) to provide care and assistance to their stranded customers as well as for their repatriation.

The commission said the ministers discussed about the opportunity of action at European level as well as the need to coordinate their efforts to take into consideration tourism industry in the discussion on the economic impact of the airspace shutdown.

"Apart from the crisis, I will ensure that tourism is adequately coordinated and supported at European level," Tajani said.

Source: Xinhua


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