American tourists account for a small fraction of travelers in countries dependent on this sector such as Greece, Spain and Italy, Bloomberg writes
It is the American dream for the troubled European tourism sector. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the New York Times on Sunday that fully vaccinated American tourists could visit the Union this summer.
But the United States accounts for a small fraction of travelers in tourism-dependent countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. To avoid another missed holiday season for these nations, a complete reopening of intra-European travel is required. And this still seems far away – he writes Bloomberg.
The prospect of US tourists coming to Europe is certainly a step in the right direction. Americans are eager to travel again, and national summer rentals have been booked up fast. Some people may now be tempted to swap their Cape Cod vacation for a trip to Capri. American travelers would be a boon to the continent’s local economies and international hotel groups, such as Marriott International Inc, InterContinental Hotels Group Plc and Accor SA.
A resumption of transatlantic flights would also help airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways (part of International Consolidated Airlines Group SA). Not only does this represent a large chunk of legacy carrier capacity, but flights between Europe and North America are also very profitable. The collapse of long-haul flights is one of the reasons why the shares of IAG, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Air France-KLM have fallen behind those of low-cost short-hop specialists such as Ryanair.
Still, it is unclear how many Americans will want, or will be able, to travel to Europe. Last week, the US State Department issued “Do Not Travel” warnings to about 80 percent of the world’s nations, including many in Europe.
The biggest problem for the Union, however, is that most tourists to France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain during their peak summer seasons are from other Western European countries, according to Richard Clarke, an analyst. by Bernstein. Americans are more likely to book vacations in nearby Caribbean locations than in Mediterranean destinations.
For European tourism to truly recover, restrictions must be lifted in countries that are major exporters of summer sun-seeking tourists, such as Great Britain and Germany.
The UK has announced a traffic light system, with the British able to travel to “green” countries without the need for quarantine upon their return. Arrivals from high-risk areas designated “amber” and “red” will be subject to stricter restrictions. The government is expected to announce further details next week, and this could open international travel from May 17. But the details will matter: the countries on the amber list would still be inconvenient and expensive for many families, as they would have to quarantine for 10 days and do more Covid tests upon return.
Germany doesn’t have a real travel ban, but the situation isn’t clear either. For example, although Germans may already visit the island of Mallorca, they are discouraged from taking holidays in Greece. As a result, some countries are taking matters into their own hands. Greece will fully open up to tourism for those who have been vaccinated or recently tested negative for the virus, starting in mid-May.
Of course, this timid release could be undone by new Covid variants and measures to prevent new waves of infections from countries like India. Last month UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock raised the possibility that Brits need a third dose of vaccines, to protect themselves from the new strains, before they can travel internationally. Such a plan would halt the fast approaching travel season.
It may be a rare glimmer of hope, but an invasion of American holidays won’t be enough to save the European summer.
(Extract from the Epr press review)