Along with many other drawbacks of COVID-19, a significant reduction in tourism has been observed throughout the world. Given the travel restrictions and halted flight operations, this is quite understandable.
However, the European Union (EU) has taken it upon itself to rectify the situation. It has recently announced re-opening its borders to visitors from other countries on the condition that all entrants must have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. Furthermore, only vaccines from the following companies will be deemed acceptable for the purpose:
- Johnson & Johnson
According to the pronouncement, tourists who have received their last shot of any of the above-mentioned vaccines 14 days or more in advance of their arrival will be allowed entry into the bloc. Children who are not eligible for receiving the vaccine will be allowed entry, subject to the condition that they have tested negative within 72 hours from arrival.
However, the decision regarding when their borders will be reopened and which nationals would be allowed lies with the individual states themselves.
The resumption of tourism in the EU is likely to be welcomed by the British population, which is no longer a part of the Union and therefore constitutes an important segment of visitors. Other countries with a high vaccination ratio are also likely to benefit from this decision.
To this date, even healthy individuals from countries having a higher rate of infection were banned from entering the EU. However, now there are signs of authorities relaxing this restriction as well by using the test results and vaccination proof as to the main decision-making criteria.
Many have expressed concerns that these relaxations which are aimed to promote tourism in the bloc might end up exposing the region to increased health risks, especially with the emergence of new coronavirus variants.
In view of the above, all the 27 nations forming the EU have agreed that if the pandemic scenario starts getting out of hand in any country, travel restrictions will be imposed on residents of that nation on an immediate basis.
Even after the much-desired announcement of re-welcoming tourists in the bloc, Europe only saw an increase of 1.5% in the value of travel and leisure stocks on May 20, 2021. One of the senior analysts at Davy, Stephen Furlong, remarked that this was probably because most players in the market already expected such a decision by the authorities.
Nonetheless, this news serves as a ray of hope in the world of international travel, which has become quite gloomy since the outbreak of the pandemic. Whether the consequences of this decision turn out to be favorable or unfavorable for the EU, only time will tell.