Tourism will receive up to a quarter of an EU coronavirus recovery fund being worked on by leaders of the bloc of nations.

Ministers have voiced strong support for national and EU measures for the “swift and effective” recovery of the tourism sector.

Although figures have not been disclosed, it is estimated that a total budget of between €1 trillion-€1.5 trillion will be needed.

Ministers highlighted importance of a harmonised solution for refunding travel packages, including vouchers, and promoting best practices throughout the EU.

A common EU approach should provide “temporary flexibility and liquidity” to ensure a fair balance of interests between tour operators and consumers.

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the internal market, warned: “We will need unprecedented funds to overcome this crisis.

“There is a need for a ‘new Marshall Plan’, with a powerful EU budget, to jump-start the path towards European recovery and a stronger and more resilient Union.

“We will need fast action, pragmatism and creativity to recover and build a resilient and sustainable tourism industry.

“But above all, this crisis calls for solidarity. No country can overcome this crisis alone.”

Croatia’s tourism minister Gari Cappelli hosted a video conference with other European counterparts on Monday to exchange best practices and identify ways of enhancing the support to the tourism sector.

He referred to the idea of opening tourist corridors between EU member states, emphasising the importance of including epidemiologists in the overall process of opening up borders and facilitating the movement of tourists.

Epidemiologists should be consulted in setting the criteria and defining the measures that would be needed to ensure the safety of tourists.

He also highlighting the importance of establishing “homogeneous rules” both air, sea and land mobility.

Cappelli said: “The tourism sector has experienced an immense and unexpected decline in demand due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our mission is to be, as members of the European Union and as part of the most successful tourist region in the world, a leader in the recovery of tourism, which as a horizontal activity directly affects the recovery of the entire economy.

“Tourism represents 10% of the EU’s GDP and provides jobs for almost 12% of employees in the European Union. In addition, tourism is the fourth export category of the Union, with consumption generating more than €400 billion in revenue.

“For all these reasons, it is important to encourage the creation of joint solutions to the crisis of the tourism sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but also to create programmes and plans for combating similar threats in the future.

“That is why I am particularly pleased that at the meeting of the members of the European Council last week it was agreed upon to establish a recovery fund, which will target the hardest hit sectors and geographical parts of Europe.

“I believe that we are all aware that tourism definitely falls into the category of the most affected sectors in this crisis.”