The European Union (EU) has recommended that member states reinstate restrictions for travellers arriving from the US, but some analysts don’t expect the change to have a significant impact on the bloc’s recovering tourism sector.
Some member states, such as Italy and Bulgaria have followed the EU instructions, reports Xinhua news agency.
Even before the recommendation, Germany had tightened restrictions, blocking the arrival of unvaccinated travellers who had recently spent time in the US from entering unless they could prove an “important reason” for entering the country.
But in most of the rest of the bloc, travellers from the US can arrive as they did before the guidelines were announced, though any individual state can choose to adjust its entry rules unilaterally.
At least one country, Portugal, even announced it had no plans to place restrictions on travellers from the US.
The EU placed the US on its “safe list” in June, though Washington did not offer the same status to travellers from the bloc arriving in America.
The latest changes come as European economies were experiencing strong economic growth in the wake of 2020 when widespread lockdowns caused economic growth in Europe to slow dramatically.
Tourism plays a big part in the European economic recovery plans, especially in countries like Italy, where it accounted for 13 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product before the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic early last year.
But according to Gianfranco Lorenzo, head of research at the Center for Touristic Studies in Florence, the new restrictions on travellers from the US were unlikely to have an impact on the tourism sector recovery.
“Before the pandemic, Italy saw six million travellers a year from the US, but last year it was only 400,000, a reduction of 92 per cent,” Lorenzo told Xinhua.
“That is not to say that travelers from the US aren’t important,” he said.
“Recovery of the tourism sector has been happening largely without visitors from the US even if their numbers are reduced, the impacts will be minimal, and the restrictions are not permanent.”
The travel restrictions were put in place after a significant spike in the coronavirus infection rate in the US in recent weeks.