Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany: what about a three-country travel bubble?

Dropping quarantine and PCR-tests among the three countries could reactivate the tourism sector in the region? 

Viviane Vaz for Id International

The Dutch Tourism and Convention Bureau (NBTC Holland Marketing) announced today it wants to create a “three country bubble” with Belgium and Germany in order to reactivate the tourism sector in the region. The idea is to allow travellers from the three countries to travel freely with no need of PCR tests or quarantine.

“When looking at the greatest need for our tourism economy before this crisis, then you see that German and Belgian visitors made up 40% of the total visitors, so they represent a serious interest and could also strongly contribute to the recovery that is really needed,” said NBTC director Jos Vranken to BNR radio station.

NBTC’s director will present the idea to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs this week. He thinks that if the European plan for a corona passport gets delayed, a bigger bubble could be the answer for now.

The European Union institutions have been discussing the application of a Digital Green Certificate (also being called corona passport) and it would be a proof that a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19, received a negative test result or recovered from COVID-19.

There are expectations to have it implemented for this Summer. Last Saturday, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that the certificate should be operational “to allow Europeans to enjoy a safe, relaxing summer” in June.

Nevertheless, Vranken reminded that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reckons the European Union’s system will not be ready until August, therefore the tourism sector should be ready to come up with other strategies.

The Dutch organization for the travel industry (ANVR) is in favour of Vranken’s idea, but highlights that the introduction of corona passport should also be applied. They remind that one of the EU proposals is to develop a coronavirus checking app between countries, which should include others like Italy.

Will Belgium accept it?

Nobody knows yet if Belgium and Germany will accept the Dutch plan. Considering just the contamination rate, the Netherlands reported twice the number of Covid-19 cases in comparison to Belgium last weekend. Compared to Germany, there were nearly three times more coronavirus contaminations. Surely, this situation can change.

For the moment, the Belgian Foreign Affairs discourages travel to the Netherlands at least until  May 15. Belgian travellers must present a negative PCR test upon arrival to the Netherlands, no matter if the travel is done by plane, boat, train or bus. Visitors must also respect a 10-day quarantine.


Beer tour – Brussels, Belgium