Citizen security officers of the Mossos d'Esquadra police force walk to the Arc de Triomf monument in Barcelona on April 1. | Bloomberg
Citizen security officers of the Mossos d’Esquadra police force walk to the Arc de Triomf monument in Barcelona on April 1. | Bloomberg


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Bonn/Rome/London: Nadine Scheiner’s efforts to travel from her home in Germany to Spain’s sun and sea have twice been foiled by the coronavirus.

First, it was her annual trip to Ibiza, and then she canceled an attempt to visit the Costa Brava in Catalonia because of the recent uptick in infections. The fallback for her family of four is the Netherlands’ windswept North Sea coast.

“I’m certainly a bit sad, we always love to go to the south and in Holland you can never be certain if the weather is going to be ok,” said the 32-year-old from Wiesbaden. “The sea and the sunshine is just good for the soul.”

Scheiner’s experience illustrates the latest problem Europe’s tourism and travel industries must confront as they struggle to recover from the unprecedented blow inflicted by the coronavirus.

While Spain is at the forefront of renewed concerns about infections, the issue is radiating across Europe’s southern rim. Instead of fueling a revival, some travelers from the wealthier north appear more inclined to stay closer to home. That’s a potential blow to countries like Spain, Italy and Greece, where tourism accounts for a big chunk of their economies.

As the August high season approaches and operators hope for a last-minute jump in bookings, the increase in cases in some virus hotspots, together with tighter hygiene, social distancing and quarantine rules for travelers, are boosting uncertainty. In a further blow, the European Union on Wednesday backtracked further on a plan to let in more foreign travelers.

In a non-binding recommendation to EU national governments, the bloc advised keeping external borders shut to people from most countries including the U.S. for at least two more weeks.

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