Please note that the information on this blog post is subject to change due to developments in travel and COVID vaccinations and treatments.
North Americans are getting jabbed and are chomping at the bit to travel. The Traveling Professor's small group tours have been filling up at an unprecedented pace as travelers have been stuck at home for over a year. The Professor has been receiving travel requests for 2021, 2022, 2023 and even some for 2024.
But are our hosts in Europe ready to receive us? Let's see what is going on:
- Europeans are Way Behind North America in Receiving Vaccinations: About 22% of all Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID 19 vaccine as of mid-March, 2021. Compare this with about an 8% rate in Italy, a 7.7% rate in France, 9.7% in Iceland, and 9.1% in Ireland. Surprisingly, the United Kingdom has 37% of its population receiving at least one dose. Check here for more statistics.
- Europeans are Much More Significantly Locked Down than We are in North America: In general, lockdowns, border restrictions, travel restrictions, and curfews are INCREASING in Europe instead of easing like they are in the United States. In Italy for example, schools are shut, people MUST stay in their homes according to curfews, domestic travel is limited, shopping is restricted, meetings in public places are severely restricted. Even visiting family is tightly controlled. France has similar lockdown rules where many hotels, bars, and businesses are closed.
Some countries are more optimistic about opening than others. In our personal conversations with our Europe partners, we find Ireland is discouraging international travel in 2021 but Scotland is much more optimistic. Iceland is accepting travelers now.
What Will Need to Happen in Europe for Travel to Welcome Travelers:
- Hotels must be open with no restrictions.
- There cannot be border restrictions, curfews, or quarantines.
- Transportation must be available without restriction. Trains, ferries, and other public transportation needs to be available.
- Restaurants need to be open without restrictions.
- Attractions (museums, memorials, etc.) need to be open without restrictions.
Right now, the above conditions do not exist in the overwhelming majority of European countries.
Another issue is that once travel is green-lighted to Europe, that does not mean they will be able to accept travelers right away. In the last year hotels, restaurants, museum staff have reduced staff significantly. Employees will need to be recruited, hired, and trained. We know of those in the transportation business who have sold or let their vehicles go off lease. They are going to need to re-start. No one will make the investment in hiring new employees or in getting new vehicles unless they are absolutely, positively sure that travel is open and open for good. All of this is going to take time. Re-starting travel is not just like flipping a switch and everything is on. Much preparation must be taken beforehand.
As previously states, some places are more ready to welcome travelers than others. Also, things are developing fast with vaccinations. The Traveling Professor is optimistic about running some tours in 2021 and thinks 2022 will be a terrific year to travel.