Transatlantic tourism has been virtually nonexistent for over a year now, for obvious, pandemic-related reasons. And it hasn’t opened up yet, even though vaccination numbers are climbing and infection numbers are falling in both the United States and the European Union.
But that may soon change. On April 26, 2021, EU officials said that plans to allow Americans back in will soon be complete. Shortly, the EU Commission will be making its proposals to member states about how exactly to reopen to transatlantic tourism.
A question many want answered is: will vaccination be required, or will negative tests be sufficient? EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said that vaccinations will be a ticket to open borders, but much is still undecided.
“These are among the questions we’ll still need to figure out,” said European Commission spokesman Adalbert Jahnz.
In years prior to the pandemic, over 15 million Americans a year would visit Europe’s tourist attractions. In 2020, transatlantic tourism dropped to almost zero, hitting airline companies, tourist sites, travel companies, and the entire hospitality industry hard. For instance, Rick Steves’ Europe, one tour group, had to cancel and refund over 20,000 tours last March.
“We will [restart tours] only when we believe it is safe, when Europe is able to provide the kind of experiential travel that is fundamental to our tour program and when we are reasonably confident that things will remain stable and open,” said Steves when asked about travel re-opening.
The United States reports that over a third of the adult population is fully vaccinated, more than 94 million people. The European Union lags slightly behind, but has its sights set on a goal of 70 percent vaccinated by July. Vaccine passports or some other manner of immunity certification are a large part of the discussion. Vaccination certifications are already in the works to smooth travel between EU countries for residents.