With the number of people in the United States vaccinated against the coronavirus climbing, Americans are starting to explore their prospects for international travel this summer, a season when Europe is traditionally a big draw.
Most of Europe has been off-limits to most U.S. citizens for over a year, and the continent is currently grappling with a third wave of coronavirus infections and a surge in new, more contagious variants, making it unclear when its borders will reopen. But some European countries have started to welcome vaccinated travelers, including American tourists, and others are making preparations to ease restrictions in time for the summer season.
Vaccine and health certificates that would help speed travel are under development, which could make it easier for tourism to restart. The 27 member countries of the European Union have endorsed the idea of a vaccine certificate. While individual European countries will still set their own rules, the initiative is expected to establish a coordinated approach across the continent.
“Finally, we have a tangible solution to coordinating and harmonizing travel measures,” said Eduardo Santander, chief executive of the European Travel Commission, an association of national tourism organizations based in Brussels. “I think other countries like the U.S. will also come up with their own technological solutions that will be compatible and after a period of trials this summer, a global standard will be established.”
including Albania and Armenia.
As the number of cases has risen in Europe, and vaccination has been sluggish, several European Union countries have gone back into lockdown. France, Belgium and Portugal have reintroduced stringent measures that restrict nonessential travel, even from within the bloc and within what is known as the Schengen Zone, which includes nonmember countries that allow free movement across their borders.
“Right now, in some European countries, it might feel like you are in the middle of a storm, which is how we felt in the U.K a couple of months ago,” said Gloria Guevara Manzo, chief executive and president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, a forum that works with governments to raise awareness about the travel industry.
European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association. “But right now, we are not talking about Americans visiting Europe.”
American travelers do have some options, though: Having brought the virus under control, Iceland is allowing all vaccinated travelers — including those from the United States — to enter without being subject to Covid-19 testing or quarantine measures.
Greece, one of the most popular European summer destinations for Americans, announced this month that it would reopen for all tourists in mid-May, as long as they show proof of vaccination, antibodies or a negative Covid-19 test result before traveling. All visitors will be subject to random testing upon arrival.
Turkey said it would not require international travelers to be vaccinated this summer and will re-evaluate testing policies after April 15.
Other European countries like Slovenia and Estonia are letting in vaccinated tourists, but not those from the United States.