The recent EU Council decision to remove the U.S.A from its safe travel list has caused concern and some confusion.
The Council issued Monday’s statement regarding the matter, which removed the U.S.from its list of countries that should be allowed to travel. It also recommended that restrictions on U.S. inbound travellers be reinstated. The Council shared an infographic that showed that the EU supports travel to the EU by people who have been fully vaccinated. This suggests that those unvaccinated would be the ones most affected by any policy changes.
The recommendation is not legally binding. Each EU member state can decide whether to increase restrictions on U.S. travel inbound. A Travel Weekly official stated that EU member states can continue to allow vaccinated travelers into their countries, but members that do not require travelers to be vaccinated are free to refuse to change their policies.
The EU official stated that the Council’s recommendations are meant to align EU member policies as far as possible.
Italy responded to the EU’s revised guidance with increased restrictions. This week, travelers from the U.S. will have to show proof of a negative Covid testing 72 before they can enter the country. The testing policy is not applicable to children under six years of age.
Jack Ezon is the founder and managing partner at Embark Beyond in New York. He reported that Italy’s abrupt protocol change has been a warning sign for clients. Many are now opting to move forward with their European travel plans.
” I would say that out of all the people we have had travel [to the EU], around 40% have made plans to move that trip even earlier, as they want to get in on the door closing sooner.” Ezon stated. They left yesterday, or they’re leaving tomorrow. People are making plans for their next trip before they make any other decisions. “
Ezon said that Embark has focused on clearing up any confusions or misinterpretations among clients in relation to the announcement.
“Every article out there says, ‘it may prohibit [travel],’ and clients read this and then they’re in a panic,” Ezon said. We need to be able to say, “Yes, they moved us onto the red list,” and then explain what that means. It is essentially meaningless. It is a suggestion. “
Phillip Archer, founder and chief experience designer at San Francisco-based Roaming Richly Travel, said he’s been inundated by client phone calls since the EU guidance change.
On Tuesday he sent an email to address the situation. He explained that it would be “extreme” for EU members not to ban travel from the U.S. “especially since it is clear that those who have been vaccinated or are following pandemic mitigation recommendations seem far less at risk.” “
“We’re more likely to see travel requirements that are more risk-reducing, such as testing before and during travel even for people who have been vaccinated.
Tour operator have had to actively engage with customers. Collette had previously announced that international travelers would need to be fully vaccinated beginning Sept. 1. It issued a statement reassuring customers that the company would still operate its EU itineraries.
“All our guests have been fully vaccinated and Collette CEO Dan Sullivan Jr. stated in a press release that the team is continuing to follow all necessary testing and guidance.
Meanwhile, Daniel Scher, a travel consultant with Strong Travel Services, a Dallas-based Virtuoso agency, said that the EU’s move has brought European business “to a standstill,” reporting that a client set to travel to Milan this week recently decided to cancel his trip, citing “too many possibilities to deal with. Scher said that the EU’s announcement will “make people who are thinking about traveling reconsider.”
Margie Hand, an Andavo Travel affiliate based in Birmingham, Ala., similarly worried about the level of uncertainty the EU’s guidance has spawned.
” I feel that many of my clients who were making plans to travel to Europe will hold off until we learn more about particular countries,” Hand stated. This adds another layer to an already stressful time for agents. “