Travel Industry Leaders Applaud EU Reopening

Europe is reopening and Americans can’t wait to get there—those are the sentiments from industry leaders who shared their praise for the decision and highlighted the big way this news will support travel advisors.

The announcement made waves globally as organizations from around the world welcomed the news, including the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).


“The news from the EU today is encouraging and welcomed by the wider travel and tourism sector,” said Virginia Messina, senior vice president, WTTC. “We hope to see EU Ministers and Member States adopt this position and extend the reopening of travel to U.S citizens.”

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The revival of trans-Atlantic travel is key to rebuilding the beleaguered travel industry and critical to the economies of both Europe and the U.S., but Messina also noted un-vaccinated travelers should still be allowed in.

“While the U.S. vaccine rollout is impressive with nearly 40 percent fully vaccinated, we shouldn’t discriminate against those yet to be immunized or who are unable to receive the vaccine,” she said. “Instead, we must allow Americans who are not vaccinated the opportunity to travel to the EU with a negative COVID-19 test.”

Throughout the pandemic, European travel has never been far from the minds of U.S. travelers.

“Americans are anxious to begin traveling back to Europe again,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “In fact, even during the pandemic, Cruise Planners’ most trending destination for new bookings has been Europe making up about 25 percent of Cruise Planners purchase revenue—with dates starting to be announced for Europe to open to vaccinated Americans, there is hope many cruises and land vacations on the books for 2021 will pan out and our hard-working travel advisors will begin to earn those well-deserved commissions.”

Americans being able to visit Europe is just one step closer to a new normal.

“Europe’s reopening is one of the lights in the pandemic tunnel we’ve been waiting for,” said Misty Belles, managing director of global public relations at Virtuoso. “It signifies a closer return to normalcy and opens up the possibility of travel resuming in a more meaningful way. This is great news for our European partners who are eager to welcome back vaccinated guests as well as for our members and advisors who typically have strong European bookings. While the summer may be a tip-toe back to the Continent, we see indicators that fall will be Europe’s great return.”

Tour operators are also looking forward to bringing guests back to Europe.

“The announcement that the EU plans on welcoming vaccinated US citizens is a real boost to travel in general and Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold in particular,” said Guy Young, President of Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. “Europe is the most important destination for our company. While we still need further details on the start date and logistical requirements, I am confident that once the details are made known we will have a significant increase in bookings.”

River cruising may also make a midsummer debut as conditions continue to evolve in a positive direction.

“We are so excited to see the situation in Europe evolving in a positive direction and are very optimistic about the new tourist entry requirements that will be announced in the coming days,” said AmaWaterways co-owner and executive vice president, Kristin Karst. “On a personal note, being born in Germany, I could not be happier about today’s announcement that Europe will be opened this summer to safely welcome back tourists to assist with the much-needed economic and social recovery.”

Travel advisors can finally begin to plan postponed trips for their Europe-bound clients and get a much-needed income boost.

“Reopening Europe for vaccinated U.S. travelers is a significant marker on our road of recovery, providing travel advisors an opportunity to expand the holistic planning conversation with clients,” said Karryn Christopher, executive vice president, marketing and preferred partnerships at Signature Travel Network. “Cancelled vacations that have remained in a travel credit holding pattern can finally be reimagined and rebooked, making expert planning more necessary than ever.”

Garcia also noted that clients who have been waiting more than a year to cross the pond are willing to spend big.

“We’re hearing from clients that they are eager to get away and because of all the pent-up demand they’re spending big on their European vacations—from river cruising to mass market cruises in the Med and even land-based tours and FIT hotel stays throughout Europe,” said Garcia.

Travel advisors continue to hear from clients wanting to go to Europe so this news is sure to be music to their ears as well as to clients.

“I’ve been getting lots of calls regarding trips to Europe,” said Scott Lara of CruiseGenius. “There is a lot of pent-up energy to travel and Europe is on the top of the list.”

Garcia agreed that demand will escalate.

“With these summer dates starting to be announced, the financial impact for travel advisors will be powerful since summer is a great time to go to Europe, so the fact that nearly two peak seasons of travel has been restricted will send a wave of Americans abroad,” she said.

Couple holding hands in Rome, Italy
Couple holding hands in Rome, Italy. (photo via hocus-focus/E+)

The news of Europe’s reopening is yet another signal that we are moving on from lockdowns to a new normal.

“This news is going to boost consumer confidence yet again and propel vaccinated travelers to call their travel advisors, a role that will continue to be paramount as each country responds and enforces different COVID-era procedures and protocols,” said Garcia.

The U.S. Travel Association chimed in praising Europe’s science-based approach and indicated that the U.S. should be next.

“The European Union’s risk-based, science-driven plan to reopen international travel will hopefully spur the U.S. to heed the many calls for a plan and timetable to safely reopen our borders,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. “The right conditions are in place: vaccinations are increasing, infections are decreasing, all inbound visitors get tested or have to prove they’ve recovered, and it’s possible to determine vaccine status.”

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