The closure of European borders to American tourists in March, with no clear exit, was a painful blow to the pandemic. Six months later, Americans began to travel again, but international destinations were still limited. Even with some pockets of Europe accessible to American tourists, notably Croatia, the United Kingdom and North Macedonia, the question of reopening the rest of the continent remains. And with the rise in coronavirus cases in Europe and the death toll in the United States continuing to rise, there does not appear to be a clear end in sight to the travel ban. Does that mean Americans should refrain from planning trips across the pond? We spoke to four insiders about travel to Europe to find out when the Americans might return. [Mexico is open to tourists. Here’s what locals want you to know before you go.] Rick Steves, author, travel guide and activist Rick Steves, godfather of European trips to America, looks brooding during a phone call to discuss the pandemic and its impact on travel. “It’s crazy until we get a grip on the virus,” says Steves, explaining that when a pocket in the United States begins to reduce its coronavirus cases, others ease restrictions and see new ones. outbreaks of cases. “I’m really disappointed that people are so impatient that they don’t realize that you can’t just get back to normal when things start to look good.” Earlier this year, Steves’ company was scheduled to take tens of thousands of Americans to Europe on guided tours; these trips have of course been canceled and refunded, and now he has started a waiting list – already of 10,000 families – for potential 2021 tours. Students wait to board a tourist boat on the Spree river in Berlin September 16. (Krisztian Bocsi / Bloomberg) “The idea is when it’s safe, we want to go [to Europe] with you, ”he said. “We have booked the tours. We want to do the tours, but we’re going to provide the leadership and integrity so that we don’t risk anyone’s health by doing these tours. Steves says he hopes Americans can return to Europe in 2021, though he is more concerned that the companies that make European travel so special will not survive the economic fallout from the unresolved tourism, let alone the crisis. economic. being American travelers are facing home. “We have more immediate needs right now, and this faces the reality of the economic division in our own society here,” Steves says. “When the government’s easy money runs out and this pandemic continues due to our inability to contain it, I think our concerns won’t be, ‘Can I take a flight to London?’ Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, an association that represents national tourism organizations in the European Union, said he was hopeful of a rebound in summer tourism. “Obviously, that didn’t crystallize at the end, because of the start of the second wave of epidemics in different countries and regions,” Santander says from his home in Brussels. “For the first half of 2020, [European tourism was] down 66 percent, but now we’re down in some places, even 90, 93 percent. So things don’t look very good at the moment. »Tables and chairs are chained in front of a closed restaurant in Barcelona’s Port Vell district on August 2. (Guillem Sartorio / Bloomberg News) Santander says he understands why Americans are confused and frustrated by not being able to travel to Europe, or know when it’s possible. In early summer, the ETC tried to convince EU member states and Schengen area members to agree on a coherent protocol for the resumption of tourism. With each country implementing different covid-19 strategies, Santander says the consequence has been an even more fragmented map of Europe. As domestic tourism in Europe has picked up, Santander says American travelers have been absolutely missed. However, they likely won’t be allowed to return to Europe until Christmas due to the state of the pandemic. “We are actually advocating that governments, the US administration and also the European Union work together,” Santander says. “Because if we come [up] with standardized protocols for testing and tracing, not only in Europe but also around the world – or if you want only between the US and the EU if that makes it easier – I think traveling isn’t not at all at risk. Santander says he doesn’t discourage Americans from planning or booking trips to Europe for 2021, as long as reservations are flexible or refundable: “People shouldn’t stop dreaming of traveling.” [Lufthansa to roll out rapid coronavirus testing, a move that could change pandemic air travel] Simone Amorico, CEO of Access Italy Access Italy is a luxury travel agency that primarily guides American clients, including former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, on private tours. With the company’s main season running from March through November, its CEO (and founder’s son) Simone Amorico said they knew early on that 2020 would be a wash. The company took this time for research and development. Amorico says his team explored Italy and developed ways for guests to have safer experiences, such as finding private villas and yachts to book. Visitors rest at a restaurant atop the Presena Glacier in Val di Sole, Italy on August 27. (Francesca Volpi / Bloomberg News) Amorico doesn’t expect Americans to be able to come back in 2020. “I just hope it will be before spring 2021, which I think will definitely happen” he said, adding that he believes that by March or April tools (like faster coronavirus tests) will be in place to facilitate safer travel between the United States and Italy. . Meanwhile, Amorico says requests for reservations for 2021 are already pouring in despite the unpredictable situation. “Our suggestion is not to confirm anything yet, but once the border opens, to try to book as soon as possible, because there will be a huge demand for next year,” he said. “The Americans can’t wait to come back to Europe, especially Italy, especially after being told they can’t come next year. [Finland to deploy coronavirus-sniffing dogs at Helsinki Airport] Sanna Kyyrä, Chief Tourism Policy Specialist at the Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment In the years leading up to the pandemic, US tourism to Finland was on the rise. Sanna Kyyrä, chief tourism policy specialist at Finland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, said Americans were among Finland’s biggest spenders, making the United States a significant share of Finland. Dog sled dogs seen in December 2019 ahead of a tour near Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland. (Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP / Getty Images) When it comes to returning Americans to the land of happiness, saunas, karaoke and the Northern Lights, “unfortunately, it seems very difficult at the moment,” Kyyrä says. Kyyrä says Finland has followed and taken part in EU discussions about which countries will be on the ‘green list’ for travel, and hopes it will be possible to develop a long-term plan by spring to help American travelers and Finnish tourism businesses prepare for a reopening. Read more: Covid has eliminated airline change fees. Could hotel resort fees be next? 10 Tips For Finding Deals On A Rental Car, According To Experts If you’re traveling for vacation, now is the time to book flights.
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