Europe travel summer 2021: what you need to know about traveling to European destinations this year

During non-pandemic summers, mainland Europe and the UK attract crowds of tourists from around the world. Last summer, they couldn’t go. This summer, many should be able to do so, although the tangle of entry requirements varies by country and can change quickly.

Here is a guide to help you determine where and when to go on vacation this summer in the 27 member countries of the European Union and in European countries outside the EU.

When will I be able to leave?

This will vary depending on the country visited and the traveler’s country of origin. Throughout Europe and the UK, conditions and entry requirements differ from country to country, as does the timing. The EU is trying to create more universal requirements for tourism, but each country retains sovereign powers to control its borders in an emergency.

There are currently nine countries on the EU’s “white list”, a list of countries whose citizens are allowed to take non-essential travel (such as holiday trips) to the European Union. As of June 3, when the latest list was published, the whitelisted countries were Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China. This list should be updated shortly and may include the United States.

On May 20, the EU also adopted a “roadmap,” or recommendation that would allow vaccinated travelers from outside the EU to travel to Europe; details should be finalized by the end of June. The roadmap will give each country an “emergency brake” mechanism that would close borders in the event of a new outbreak of COVID-19, whether in the traveler’s country of destination or origin.

While EU-wide policies are still being finalized, a number of European countries have opened or will soon open their borders to non-EU travelers under certain conditions; these include Greece, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Iceland.

Meanwhile, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – the four countries of the UK, which is no longer part of the EU – have each set their own tourist travel criteria , reviewed every three weeks. These criteria involve a red, orange and green system that can lead to quarantine and various tests, depending on the traveler’s country of origin.

What proof will be required to show that I have been completely and correctly vaccinated?

In May, the EU adopted the concept of an “EU digital COVID certificate” for its own citizens, proposing that it be in place by July 1. This would digitally prove that the certificate holder had been fully vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, or Pfizer), recovered from COVID-19, or tested negative.

While it is hoped that Americans will eventually be able to provide the same information digitally when traveling to Europe, in order to gain entry, it is unclear when and how this will happen, in part because the government American has not implemented a similar numerical system. system. Currently, it appears that Americans are able to provide other types of proof, such as their paper vaccination card, for travel within the EU.

Will I need a COVID-19 test?

A COVID-19 test requirement will entirely depend on where you are going. For example, from now on England requires some visitors to test both before and after arrival. Italy now allowing passengers on special “COVID-tested flights” from the United States, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates; passengers on these flights must test for COVID-19 before departure and on arrival in Italy, as well as on departure from Italy.

Anyone age 2 and older returning to the United States will be required to take a test within three days of their flight’s departure or prove that they have recovered from COVID-19.

Can I book now, before the rules are finalized?

You can certainly, though thoroughly research the cancellation and refund policies of any airline, hotel, tour operator or attraction you are considering before booking, in case something changes – in your health or in the pandemic situation. in your country or the country where you are visiting – which would cause you to cancel your trip.

Jennifer Tombaugh, president of Tauck, a Connecticut-based tour operator specializing in European travel, said travelers can “absolutely book now, although they need to make sure they have a very good understanding of the fees cancellation and any other restrictions”. is that it is very important that you read the fine print, understand what payment is required, when, what is refundable and what is not. A knowledgeable and knowledgeable tour operator or travel agent can help.

How quickly will destinations be booked up, once new rules are announced?

This will depend on the destination and whether it already accepts tourists, for example, from other European countries, the United States or Asia.

Greece, which has been welcoming some tourists since mid-April, is a popular destination that is likely to book up quickly. The same goes for Portugal, which ended its ban on British tourists earlier this month (May).

It will probably be easier to book a vacation in a major European or British city, where plenty of hotel rooms are likely to be available, than in a small resort town with limited accommodation options.

Will it be difficult to book a reasonably priced flight to Europe?

Terry Dale, president and CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association, suggests “book now – if you’re serious, get yourself a reserved space.”

He and Eduardo Santander, executive director and chief executive of the European Travel Commission, a non-profit organization that represents Europe’s national tourist boards, expect there will be a shortage of capacity on flights to Europe, because travel there has been in such flux, and it is not easy for carriers to respond quickly to increases in demand.

However, Craig Jenks, an expert on the transatlantic airline market, believes that if you “book closer, there will be opportunity” somewhere, due to imbalances between supply and demand. He suggests monitoring flights on websites like Google, Expedia and Travelocity.

Can I cancel, if there is a new shutdown or other unforeseen event?

This will entirely depend on the travel provider – such as an airline, hotel or tour operator – that you have booked. Although most airlines have been very flexible in not applying cancellation or rebooking fees during the pandemic and some have even waived some rebooking fees, it is unclear how long their flexibility will last, if demand for air travel continues to strengthen.

Travel agents encourage the purchase of travel insurance: Some policies are now available that offer coverage for pandemic-related disruptions, such as COVID-related cancellation, COVID medical coverage, and accommodation or additional transportation.

Will I be able to visit more than one country in Europe, whether traveling by land or on some kind of cruise ship?
This situation is changing, as vaccination programs are rolled out, allowing borders to open, and as new variants are discovered, which close borders. When the EU reaches an agreement on reopening standards and uses the digital COVID certificate, intra-European travel should be relatively easy and possible.

But, from now on, for example, Americans can travel to Greece without quarantine, but they cannot visit Germany or the Netherlands. If you work with a tour operator or cruise line, they will have the latest information on intra-European travel.

Will I need to be tested or quarantined when I return to my home country?

This will entirely depend on the regulations in your home country. As mentioned, almost all air travelers entering the United States must test themselves before arrival or prove that they have recovered from COVID.

What are the best sources of information to help me plan my trip?

Reopen.Europa.EU is an EU-run website that provides an overview of the health situation in European countries and information on the various restrictions in place, including quarantine and testing requirements for travellers, and on contact tracing and coronavirus alert mobile apps.

The Sherpa website is an independent Toronto-based resource that offers the latest information on travel documents and requirements around the world.

The European Travel Commission website provides links to specific COVID information for its member countries. Also check the website of the airlines you are considering booking for their latest requirements.

Tom Jenkins, chief executive of ETOA, the trade association of European tour operators, believes that major European cities have been hit by the pandemic and will therefore evolve. “Europe’s service economy is adapting to huge shifts in demand. Yet now is the perfect time to go. Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ haven’t caught COVID and they feel very lonely.”

“It will be an exciting and wild time,” predicts Tombaugh. “Expect the unexpected and have a good sense of humor to make the most of the new world of travel we are all discovering.”

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