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European Union to Open Borders to US, Other Tourists

European Union travel
Credit: Greek Reporter

Ambassadors from the 27 nations of the European Union agreed on Wednesday to allow United States residents to travel into their countries for nonessential purposes, opening up the gigantic US market to tourism for this Summer.

Diplomats from around the EU told Reuters that they had approved adding the United States and five other nations to their list of approved countries for nonessential travel at their meeting today.

According to the report, the change will come into effect in the next several days.

The countries of Taiwan, North Macedonia, Serbia, Albania and Lebanon will also be added to the list allowing their residents to enter the nations of the entire European Union for tourism purposes.

China’s administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau will be included as well, and an existing clause regarding reciprocal measures will be removed.

The nations of the EU are now being recommended to gradually lift what restrictions they have currently for eight nations that are on the list, including Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and Rwanda.

However, the nations of the bloc are still allowed to require that any traveler present  results from a negative Covid-19 test or even to quarantine, if they so choose, according to the Reuters report.

Seven countries in Europe, including Greece, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Poland, launched the digital vaccine certificate, also called the Green passport the first week of June, allowing all vaccinated travelers and those presenting evidence of a negative Covid test or antibodies to enter their nations for nonessential purposes.

Greece had earlier opened up to such American travelers when it flung open their doors to US tourists back on May 14, as the country finally loosened its months-long lockdown. The country had earlier opened its tourism floodgates to travelers from Israel and other nations which had high success rates with their vaccination programs.

This soft opening is part of a “warm-up phase” of a full continent-wide reopening in which each member state retains the option to begin its digital vaccination certification program before it is available in all European Union nations on July 1.

This optional system applies for citizens as well as residents of the nations of the EU.

In May, the European Commission announced its plans to beginning to allow non-Europeans who had been vaccinated to travel into the nations of the Union this Summer.

Although Americans do not use a digital vaccination certificate, each vaccinated person has a card that can be easily shown for proof of vaccination. Alternatively they are also allowed to show proof of a recent recovery from Covid-19 of negative test results in order to enter into the nations that have decided to receive them.

European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stated in a press conference on June 1 “EU citizens are looking forward to traveling again, and they want to do so safely,” said “Having an E.U. certificate is a crucial step on the way.”

UK slower than European Union to allow freer travel

Earlier this week, Greece called on the UK to include Greece on its much-desired “Green List,” which allows UK travelers to avoid quarantining upon reentry to Great Britain.

The European travel giant TUI announced on Monday that it was canceling tour packages scheduled from now until early July for destinations such as Greece, Italy and Spain.

The UK, which is Greece’s largest tourist market, keeps postponing the inclusion of Greece and other Mediterranean countries onto its “green list,” despite repeated appeals from Greece to relax restrictions on travel.

According to Travel Weekly, the recently-canceled vacation packages refer to dates ending ending both on July 4 and July 11. The first case includes vacation packages in such European Union countries as Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Malta, Spain, and Italy.

For Greece in particular, vacation deals to Chania, Kavala, Kefalonia, Mykonos, Preveza, Samos, Santorini, Skiathos, and Thessaloniki were canceled.

Ambassador Pyatt: US travel demand for Greece has skyrocketed

American travel demand for Greece has skyrocketed due to the positive messages that the Greek tourism authorities have sent out to the world, including the effective management of the pandemic, the priority given by the Greek government to the vaccination of the inhabitants of the islands and tourism workers in tourism.

The establishment of effective health protocols also appears to be a defining factor in the great interest in Greece as a Summer travel destination, according to the US Ambassador.

Speaking at an American Airlines event to celebrate the launch of daily direct flights from New York, Chicago and Philadelphia to Athens on May 27, US ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt said that Americans look forward to discovering a secret that everyone here knows: that the crystal clear waters and sparkling beaches of this country, its mountain paths, its ancient monuments and museums and its rare, brilliant light are something very special.

The ambassador referred to the “record number of nine daily direct flights by US airlines to Greece,” and welcomed the efforts of airlines such as AA to increase daily direct flights between Greece and the USA.

A number of airlines have added new routes to Greece and nonstop flights from the East Coast to Athens in response to the steep increase in demand for them from Americans who are eager to visit Greece after the pandemic.

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