Masks and bleach: Europe’s cities gear up for post-lockdown tourism

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Anyone visiting the Eiffel Tower in Paris when it reopens on Thursday will have to take the stairs – all 674 of them – because France’s iconic monument is keeping the lifts shut.

After months of lockdown many Europeans are dreaming of a summer holiday, but vacations will look a bit different this year – breakfast buffets, guided tours and club nights may well be out; masks and temperature checks are definitely in.

Tourist attractions from Rome’s Colosseum to Amsterdam’s Hermitage museum have introduced a slew of measures to minimize the risk of a new outbreak of coronavirus which has killed about 170,000 people in western Europe.

In Italy, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Florence’s striking cathedral are turning to technology to enforce social distancing, providing visitors with electronic devices which vibrate if they get too close to one another.

In Barcelona, the authorities are launching an app to help tourists in Spain’s second city plan their itineraries and avoid congestion and queues.

Countries like Italy and Spain, where tourism accounts for about an eighth of GDP, are desperate to lure back visitors as they scramble to salvage the summer season.

But there are fears that a return to mass tourism could see a second spike in the pandemic.

“This is the most difficult situation the Spanish tourism sector has faced that anyone can remember,” said Jose Luis Zoreda, vice-president of tourism lobby group Exceltur.

Tourists in Spain, which reopened its borders to most European visitors this week, will see changes from the moment they check in.

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