American journey to Europe: Summer season 2021 could also be an choice
Like many other Americans, Chris Morrison, his wife Jill, and two young daughters hope to be on vacation this year. When promises for a vaccine became known last fall, Morrison booked Air France flights to Europe with miles and was more confident than ever that a summer trip to France and Greece in 2021 might finally be possible.
Despite the optimism, Morrison is still holding back to embark on another part of the trip.
“My wife and me have a weekly conversation,” says the Fairfax, Virginia resident. “Do we book the rest of the trip? If we do, should we pay to keep hotels from paying cancellation fees? Travel insurance is not an option. “
Around the time Morrison was reserving his plane tickets last year, we spoke to insiders about their thoughts on when Americans might be able to return to Europe. They accurately predicted 2020 was off the table, with some hoping for a spring and summer rebound.
But does that forecast hold up now that 2021 has arrived, a highly contagious variant of coronavirus has spread and the distribution of vaccines lags behind?
Gloria Guevara Manzo, executive director and president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, said she received a less hopeful answer to that question two weeks ago, but her stance has changed since then.
“Based on my recent conversations with a tourism minister here in the UK and some conversations I have had with the Spanish government, the EU and others, things are more optimistic,” she says.
Manzo says that with countries changing their vaccination strategies to hand out all of their doses rather than holding second doses, vulnerable groups may be better protected sooner.
“In my talks with governments, they generally told me that it was going to be a very bumpy ride, it was going to be very complicated, but after mid-February we hope for a lot more positive and good changes,” she said. “That could help us see this recovery… and what does that mean for travel? We could have a very good summer. “
For the same reason, Eduardo Santander, Executive Director of the European Travel Commission (ETC), is sticking to his prediction that there could be spring or summer trips to Europe for Americans this year.
According to ETC data, Santander is also seeing people’s perceptions of travel changing. More have endeavors to book trips abroad.
“People are starting to investigate [online travel agencies] and booking engines for the summer to whet your appetite again – which is very, very, very good, ”he says.
Despite his positive attitude, Santander also realizes that once travel regains momentum, it won’t look like it did before the pandemic. He believes travelers need to get used to the health and safety precautions at airports and tourist attractions.
“We can’t just assume that we’ll be back by 2019 and everything will be fine,” says Santander. “Lots of [coronavirus] Measures will stay in place for many, many months and even years. “
For those considering a trip to Europe in 2021, both Santander and Manzo are confident of giving the green light to the booking, as long as the flight, hotel reservation and all activities can be canceled or postponed without any problems.
“Right now there is a lot of flexibility. If things aren’t moving in the direction we hope they are, you can always make changes, ”says Manzo, adding that she encourages people to take advantage of the unprecedented promotions that are now available. “Make sure you only monitor the progress of the vaccinations.”
In an email to the Washington Post, a U.S. State Department official said Americans considering overseas travel should read the entire travel advisory for their destinations on travel.state.gov and sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, to receive important information messages such as notifications and updates on travel warnings from the nearest US embassy or consulate.
“The COVID-19 pandemic poses unprecedented risks for travelers and our destination-specific recommendations take into account the latest data and health and safety analysis related to COVID risks,” the official said. “We also urge those who are considering traveling abroad to check this out [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] country-specific recommendations and their general guidelines for international air travel. “
Right now, Morrison feels his family’s booked flights are a double-edged sword. The tickets to Europe are both a blessing and something that weighs on them.
“It’s a little comforting to us that we’ve done a large part of our journey in case, touch wood, we can make the journey,” says Morrison. “But that’s only part of a very complex puzzle, and there are still a lot of pieces that we can’t use – and that we may not be able to for some time.”
Read more about traveling during the pandemic:
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Destinations: Puerto Rico | Hawaii | Private islands | 10 covid vacancies | Caribbean | Mexico