Museums and attractions are starting to open but in a very different operating environment for the foreseeable future. The cultural sector is under financial stress, with political commitment to its support under increased scrutiny at a time when all sectors are under strain. It represents one of Europe most valuable assets, providing employment and attracting visitors from around the world.
On a practical level, there will be restrictions to capacity due to safety and social distancing requirements. These can be seen as fatal for the performing arts sector and, for attractions, pre-booking only and strict flow management will become standard. In a normal market, reduced supply would drive up the price, but many attractions are publicly owned and price controlled. Now that local communities have easy access to cultural attractions that were typically very busy with visitors, some wonder if the idea of one price for locals and another for visitors will become a reality.
Many operators are considering to move their businesses away from some of the classic sites, primarily due to ever-increasing logistical obstacles. If prices increase too, this shift will be more marked. There could be increased risk that ‘culture’ is only for those who can afford it. The same may be said about tourism.
The current environment may also be seen as an opportunity for diversification: Europe’s potential cultural tourism offer is wide, and contrasts with the historic over-concentrations at certain sites. Covid-19 may prove to be a catalyst for curiosity to turn into real opportunity as buyers look for new ways of adding value with new partners who are keen to benefit from the travel industry’s ability to sell.
Economic Recovery And Sustainability
The goal of the European Green Deal is to deliver a 90% reduction in transport-related greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In a new initiative launched on July 1st, the European Commission (EC) makes a strong link between economic recovery and sustainability. Policy outcomes will affect the regulatory and tax environment, as well as investment strategy. A consultation is now open until 29 July which, together with the EC’s policy roadmap.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on Europe’s mobility and its transport sector. The economic shutdown has meant jobs, incomes and healthy companies have been put at risk in ways not seen in previous crises. Europe must invest in protecting and creating jobs and in the competitive sustainability of its transport sector by building a fairer, greener and more digital future for it,” states the EC’s roadmap. “Europe must repair the short-term damage from the crisis in a way that also invests in the long-term future of mobility. Transport is the only economic sector whose greenhouse gas emissions are higher than in 1990 and where emissions are growing despite the mitigation efforts undertaken.”