Vaccination locks and delays conspire to push travel to Europe into late summer: Travel Weekly


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While the successful deployment of the Covid-19 vaccine in the United States has fueled optimism about a strong rebound in summer travel, tourism officials in Europe say the slowdown in vaccine progress there, coupled with new flare-ups, likely means that a widespread Americans’ comeback won’t happen until late summer.

Tom jenkins

“I do not see anything happening at the level of Europe as a whole [opening] before the end of July, ”said Tom Jenkins, CEO of the European Tourism Association. “It’s possible July will pay off, but most people are looking at August, September.

Jenkins said an exception could be the UK, which is much further along than the region when it comes to vaccinations.

Officially, the EU’s more than one year ban on inbound travel from the US and most countries outside the region remains in place, but its members are not bound by this.

Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, Iceland

Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik, Iceland

For example, Iceland opened on April 6 to international visitors who can show proof of a vaccine or a cure from a previous infection. Greece has said it hopes to open in mid-May to vaccinated travelers. And Croatia has lifted its travel restrictions for fully vaccinated visitors.

And many expect more countries, especially in southern Europe, to follow suit.

But with many countries on lockdown again and concerns over rare blood clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine further delaying the rollout of already slow vaccines in the region, Jenkins and European Travel Commission CEO Eduardo Santander said the landscape current travel looks a lot like it was a year ago. .

London at dusk [Credit: Bucchi Francesco/Shutterstock.com]

Photo credit: Bucchi Francesco / Shutterstock.com

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“Besides a few destinations with a relatively stable epidemiological situation in southern Europe, travel is essentially suspended throughout Europe,” Santander said. “Many European countries are now introducing more stringent measures in hopes of stopping the third wave of infections quickly.”

The good news, Santander said, is that there appears to be a political will from EU members to pass a digital health certificate that tracks vaccines, Covid tests and those who have recovered from Covid in order to open borders across the region.

Santander said he hoped the plan could be adopted by June and that there was hope that the EU and the United States could come to an agreement on common technology for such certificates. facilitate travel. He said there had recently been discussions between European leaders and the Biden administration on how to open travel. And airlines are actively pushing to reopen US-Europe routes.

Eduardo Santander

Eduardo Santander

“There is a principle of cooperation there,” he said. “We predicted that international travel would resume at the end of the third quarter of the year. We believe that if the digital solution works … Europe can open up to the United States and other destinations long- couriers much earlier. “

Some US travel agencies remain optimistic about earlier restarts, albeit fragmented until the EU is able to agree on a framework to lift its ban on most international visitors.

Globus, for example, was to announce this week that it would resume operations in June for some international destinations, including Iceland, which is part of the EU passport-less Schengen area.

Marketing director Steve Born called it “a step towards a larger operation in Europe, as we expect access to expand in the coming weeks through the second half of June and through July.”

Dan Mahar, CEO of Tauck, said: “I think there is a chance for some countries, depending on their particular circumstances, to make the decisions that are best for their country.

“The world could be very different there in 60 to 90 days. Look at how different our world is,” Mahar said.

And a growing number of cruise lines have announced plans to start sailing from Greece and Iceland. As recently as last week, Viking announced that it would start sailing from Iceland in May. Seabourn has announced that it will launch cruises from Greece departing from Athens starting July 3. And Crystal Expedition Cruises has said its first ship, the Crystal Endeavor, will launch service to Iceland in July.

Like many tour operators, most of the river lines that market American travelers are officially suspended until June, although some plan to operate limited cruises before that date.

Rudi Schreiner, president and co-founder of AmaWaterways, for example, said Germany was stranded until at least April 17, but their German partner still hopes to start cruises for German travelers there on May 12.

“Some countries might open before July,” he said, “but I still don’t expect North Americans to sail on our ships until August, maybe the end of July at the earliest.”

Likewise, Marcus Leskovar, executive vice president of Amadeus Waterways, said they hope to start sailing with European passengers in June and with American travelers later in the summer.

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