Today, the last big step of the journey has been taken: Europe is reopening its doors to travelers from all over the world. The European Union recommends its 27 member countries to start lifting the restrictions they have placed on travelers from the United States
Now on the list of open nations, Americans can visit Europe for non-essential reasons like tourism. EU members voted today (June 16) at a meeting of the bloc’s permanent representatives. The recommendation is non-binding. EU members can open or not and set any tests or vaccination requirements they want.
Ready to resume?
It is important to note that there are still some logistical issues to contend with here. Although the travel industry has wanted such a reopening, obstacles remain.
While EU countries have developed a QR code-based passport system that allows carriers to easily report their status when they reach and pass through travel checkpoints, the United States has not developed similar system and do not intend to do so. American travelers to Europe can get one if they can convince the authorities in the countries they are visiting to issue one. This, it seems, remains an open question hanging over the reopening of EU travel to Americans.
Some EU countries like Croatia, Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina have already opened up to American tourists before the official EU, but other countries remain reluctant.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said this week a cautious and gradual approach must remain the rule.
“Let’s look at the science and look at the progress. Let’s look at the numbers and when it’s safe, we will,” said De Croo. “By the time we see that a large part of the population is doubly vaccinated and can prove that they are safe, travel will resume. And I would expect that during this summer.”
Beyond travel restrictions and requirements, there is also the small problem of travel players who must return to the ability to handle a dramatic increase in customer numbers this summer.
The three largest US carriers – American, United and Delta – have announced that they are currently hiring or will do so before the end of the year. They also plan to bring back employees on leave during the pandemic and are considering an expansion. Southwest, which downsized less during the pandemic than its three biggest rivals, said it was also preparing its own hiring process.
“I think current carriers are eager to grab as many flights as possible,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. CNN. “At the start of 2020, all [of the airlines] said they would hire thousands of people. In fact, what we’re doing is catching up. “
The union group expects the number of flight attendants on duty to increase from 80,000 today to 100,000 within two years.
And ready or not, here are the travelers. Forecasts have been circulating for weeks that consumer travel is expected to increase nationally in summer 2021 – and from today it looks like Europe will be open for business very soon.
What remains to be seen is all of the places consumers will go when the doors are officially open – and whether the industry is actually prepared to accept a sudden surge in consumer interest to get back on the road.
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