Despite Joe Biden’s recent tour of Europe, Washington’s rhetoric has not changed. The United States remains closed to French travelers. Tourism professionals and travelers remain in the dark.
Weeks go by and the borders of the United States remain stubbornly closed to French travelers. Still not the slightest reopening schedule in sight for the moment. “We are eager to see transatlantic travel resume as soon as science permits”, but “I am not in a position to specify a timeframe as this will largely depend on epidemiological developments” and “variants” said Monday. , interviewed by AFP, the spokesman for American diplomacy Ned Price.
Joe Biden’s recent European tour, on which hopes for reopening were based, will therefore not have changed anything: the doors remain closed. His government has also confirmed that it was in no hurry to authorize the resumption of comings and goings by extending, until at least July 21, the closure of its land borders with Canada and Mexico, as it has been doing this every month since the start of the pandemic. In addition to these restrictions with neighboring countries, travelers from the Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Ireland have not been able to enter the United States since March 2020. A “travel ban” also in force, for certain dates different, for South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Iran.
However, thanks to the spectacular decline in Covid cases and the progress of vaccination, the countries of the European Union have decided to reopen their own borders to Americans, provided they are vaccinated or present a negative test. “I hope we find a similar solution in a spirit of reciprocity for travelers from Germany and the EU to the United States,” tweeted German Ambassador to Washington Emily Haber.
In mid-May, Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European Affairs, said that Paris would condition the return of American tourists to reciprocity. A requirement that quickly fell into oblivion.
A reopening announced on July 4?
From a European diplomatic source, it is recognized that the Twenty-Seven have given up making it a condition of their own reopening under pressure from countries whose economy depends most on American tourists, such as Greece, Italy, Spain. but also France.
In the absence of a real balance of power, Washington therefore remains vague, especially as domestic tourism seems to compensate, for the moment, for the absence of European tourists. And as AFP reports, in the United States, the voices rising to demand the return of foreign tourists still seem very timid. A few sectors, including the air, however, are beginning to express themselves. A few days ago the Wall Street Journal, estimated in an editorial titled “Bring back the tourists” that there was “no reason” for the lack of reciprocity.
Two weeks ago, the Biden administration announced the creation of task forces with the EU, London, Ottawa and Mexico City, to “chart the way forward” to reopen the borders “safely”. Again, no timetable has been announced for their work. Joe Biden, elected on a promise of a rigorous fight against Covid-19 after the criticized management of Donald Trump, “gives precedence to the health issue over everything else, without taking into account the social and human consequences”, estimates Célia Belin, of the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington. According to this French political scientist very mobilized against a situation that she considers unfair, the Democratic president “does not want to take any risk” for the moment, all the more with “the concern linked to the Delta variant”.
The problem, she told AFP, is that where the Europeans had clearly set the epidemiological threshold from which they would accept the Americans, “we do not know the health criteria that will govern a possible reopening on the American side” . This “lack of transparency leaves everyone in uncertainty”, she laments.
Without visibility, European diplomats are reduced to forecasts. Will Joe Biden announce the reopening on July 4, during the national holiday he wants to celebrate as that of the return to normal? Or will he prefer to let the summer pass? What is certain is that even after the authorization of round trips, many expatriates, whose work visas have often expired in recent months, will remain stuck for a long time, as the American consulates seem to have been disorganized by the pandemic and are seriously behind schedule in processing applications.
Without quick announcement, tourism professionals in France, whose hopes were already slim on the United States, may have to give up on a flagship destination on the French market for the summer. In 2019, now the benchmark year for the industry, the United States welcomed 1,843,782 French travelers, a figure then up 4.3%.
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