After over a year of waiting and hoping to be able to travel as we once did, good news is coming our way daily in terms of places that will let Americans in once again. Talks of Europe being open this summer for tourism is cheering up the locals whose economies depend heavily on tourism. And it is also inspiring us American tourists to start looking at cultural destinations within Europe after what has seemed like an eternity. Lots of deals are now available to Europe whether for flights, travel packages and cruise vacations. They are even offering very flexible payment and cancellation terms to give travelers an easy way out in case destinations become unavailable for whatever reason.
As things are starting to open up in places that have been closed to tourism for quite some time, there will be some challenges that both the destinations and the tourists will face. Many tourism suppliers (such as hotels, restaurants, attractions) spent months closed or with few to no employees. Hiring them back or retraining new employees will take time. Getting things not only to how they were pre-pandemic, but also implementing new safety protocols has also proven to be a challenge for many. Additionally, certain countries have opened up early to Americans, yet still have strict lockdowns or very restrictive measures in place that prohibit tourism as it is really intended to be experienced. Imagine going on vacation and not being able to eat at a local restaurant because they are currently offering take out only?
DIGITAL GREEN CERTIFICATE OR PASS
You’ve probably heard of the big news of Europe implementing a Digital Green Pass or the Digital Green Certificate that will facilitate travel to the EU with the use of a QR Code, and available via app on your smartphone or printed on paper. This travel pass will not take the place of an actual passport but will instead help in screening entry requirements and will be a unified system that all countries can adopt within the European Union. Since vaccination efforts have been successful within the US, and other countries, European countries will start to allow US travelers that meet one of the following requirements: be vaccinated against COVID, supply a negative COVID test or have the antibody/immunity results against COVID. But note that it is up to each country to adapt this form of entry and requirements/restrictions may still vary from country to country.
SOME CONFUSION STILL
As an example, Greece announced several weeks ago that Americans would be welcome starting mid-May, yet lockdowns and restrictions on businesses as well as circulation between the various parts of Greece were still restricted. Italy and France have also recently announced opening to US travelers, and restrictions are still in place, but continue to be lifted gradually. Croatia has been open and then closed again depending on infection levels, but recently opened up again for Americans. And Ireland has not yet determined when they will open for Americans but will instead open tourism gradually for Irish nationals and nearby UK travelers. As you can see, it varies by country, but if you are determined to head to Europe soon, there will certainly be more options popping up in the coming weeks as countries get organized to let us in once again!
As with anything during this pandemic, it is crucial to do your homework before you select a destination. That deal you find advertised may be too good to be true if you are limited in what you can actually do when you get there! Make sure you know what is expected of you as a tourist. Educate yourself on entry requirements, such as testing, what protocols they are following for frequenting local places, are they allowing you to stay out past a certain hour, are restaurants and bars open, and will it be easy for you to get tested to return back to the US. If you need help, I always recommend using a travel agent/adviser, as they can help!
Europe is in our future plans once again, and it will be very exciting to eat a gelato, take a picture by the Eiffel tower, or cruise past those magnificent Greek Isles like we were once able to!