It’s been a year since the European Union closed its borders, but yesterday the EU agreed to open its borders to vaccinated travelers. The European Council “will now recommend that member states ease some of the current restrictions” for those who have been vaccinated, European Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand told the Associated Press.
Cruise Planners COO Vicky Garcia said the EU reopening will have a big impact on travel advisors’ bottom line. “With these summer dates starting to be announced, the financial impact for travel advisors will be powerful since summer is a great time to go to Europe, so the fact that nearly two peak seasons of travel has been restricted will send a wave of Americans abroad. Americans are anxious to begin traveling back to Europe again. In fact, even during the pandemic, Cruise Planners’ most trending destination for new bookings has been Europe making up about 25 percent of Cruise Planners purchase revenue. With dates starting to be announced for Europe to open to vaccinated Americans, there is hope many cruises and land vacations on the books for 2021 will pan out and our hard-working travel advisors will begin to earn those well-deserved commissions. Looking at future departures for 2022, Cruise Planners is pacing well ahead of pre-pandemic sales signaling the strong pent-up desire for travel.
“We’re hearing from clients they’re eager to get away and because of all the pent-up demand they’re spending big on their European vacations—from river cruising to mass market cruises in the Med and even land-based tours and FIT hotel stays throughout Europe.”
That said, the timing of reopening for all countries remains unclear, no starting dates have been released and many of the details will be left up to the 27 EU member countries. For now, Italy reopened earlier this week with quarantine-free flights from the U.S. on Delta and American; Greece has also reopened; Croatia and Iceland are welcoming travelers; and France is set to reopen on June 9.
The final EU plan, which is set to come today or Friday, will include a list of safe destinations where the infection rate is low. Under the plan, travelers with approved vaccines would be allowed in without testing or quarantine.
‘The news from the EU is encouraging and welcomed by the wider travel & tourism sector. We hope to see EU Ministers and Member States adopt this position and extend the reopening of travel to U.S citizens,” said Virginia Messina, sr. v.p. of the World Travel & Tourism Council, in a press release statement. “This move could unlock transatlantic travel which is critical to the economies of the U.S. as well as the whole of the EU.
“While the U.S. vaccine rollout is impressive with nearly 40 percent fully vaccinated, we shouldn’t discriminate against those yet to be immunized or are unable to receive the vaccine. Instead, we must allow Americans who are not vaccinated the opportunity to travel to the EU with a negative COVID-19 test.”
The story will be updated as more news on the EU plan is announced.