Arab News

Worries and refound happiness of tourists in Europe

Tourists say traveling during the pandemic is still complicate­d


They’re back! Foreign tourists can once again be seen and heard strolling the streets of European cities.

But despite Europe throwing open its doors, tourists say traveling during the pandemic is complicate­d.

Since June 9, it is possible for tourists to visit Europe again, depending on the health situation in their country of origin, and vaccinatio­n record of the traveler.

Among the different measures that can apply are a proof of full vaccinatio­n more than two weeks prior to travel, a certificat­e of COVID-19 recovery less than six months prior to travel, a negative RT-PCR or antigen test, health form, quarantine or self-isolation of seven to 10 days.

The difference­s feed into uncertaint­y that travelers face.

“One day you need this, another day that. When we arrived at the airport, we were asked to fill out new papers, even though we had already filled out several,” remarked Brandon McDaniel, a

Texas businessma­n who was on a five-week trip with his family.

His wife Crystal, a designer, added: “We know that it will be very expensive after a while to do all the tests required to enter each country, but if that’s what it takes to be able to travel again, we will do it.”

The US is on a “green” list of countries according to a scale establishe­d in France in mid-June, which means people from there do not need a test if they have been fully vaccinated.

“Americans have wanted to come back for some time,” noted Corinne Menegaux, head of the

Paris tourism office.

“In all surveys, we see that Paris is still the main destinatio­n for them. And since vaccinatio­n campaigns began there earlier, many have been inoculated, which makes traveling easier,” she added.

In spite of the reopening, the number of US tourists visiting Paris is down by 85 percent from the level in June 2019, and arrivals by foreign tourists in general are down by 60 percent, the tourism office says.

“In 2019, there were 10 million people over the summer. In 2020 we welcomed 2 million and this year we expect between 4 and 5 million,” Menegaux said.

Denis Farias, who runs a souvenir shop near the landmark Eiffel Tower, said: “There are really no more tourists in Paris at the moment.

“Two years ago there were five of us (working) in the shop, now I am on my own.”

Which is ok with many of the tourists.

“Since there are fewer people, you can take the time to do more things, spend less time in line, it’s a relaxing atmosphere,” observed Mohammed Charpenel, who works in the realestate sector in Dubai.

“It’s happiness again,” he concluded.

The tourism numbers may be down in part to the uncertaint­y whether Europe would allow in tourists for the summer, which discourage­d some people when making their vacation plans months ago.

“The worst part was the waiting. We had booked in March but we didn’t know when France would reopen,” Chicago teacher Martin Douglass said. “Today, traveling is like gambling.”

 ?? Reuters/File ?? People enjoy at the beach in Castiglion­e della Pescaia, Italy.
Reuters/File People enjoy at the beach in Castiglion­e della Pescaia, Italy.

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