DECRYPTION – Americans can travel to France again. But the United States has been barricaded to travelers for more than a year.
The Covid-19 is drastically declining in many countries, including the United States. So much so that Europe, led by France, is reopening its borders to American tourists, vaccinated or not. “Welcome back!” tweeted on June 18 the Secretary of State for Tourism, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne. A message that his US counterpart would be hard pressed to give: France, like the EU, does not impose any reciprocity in terms of tourism, except on China. And to this day, Donald Trump’s proclamation of March 11, 2020 is still relevant: the United States remains barricaded.
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The country refuses to communicate any timetable on a possible lifting of entry bans. “We can’t wait to see transatlantic travel resume […]” But “I am not in a position to specify a timeframe because it will largely depend on the epidemiological evolution” and the “variants”, The spokesman for American diplomacy, Ned Price, evaded Monday. Washington’s speech has therefore not changed after President Joe Biden’s European tour.
“I believe that by the beginning of July the Americans will change their rules. “
Clément Beaune, this Wednesday
His government even confirmed that it was in no hurry to allow the resumption of the comings and goings. It has extended until at least July 21 the closure of its land borders with Canada and Mexico, as it has done every month since the start of the pandemic.
“With countries where the health situation is good, like the United States, we have agreed to open our borders, the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, recalled Wednesday morning on France Inter. It is in our interest, particularly tourism. I want reciprocity, we will put pressure on them. I believe that by the beginning of July the Americans will change their rules. ”
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In the absence of a real balance of power, Washington therefore remains vague – the health criteria governing a reopening are not known – especially as local tourism seems to make up for the absence of Europeans for the moment.
On the French side, a first barrier to departure has been lifted since June 9 and the communication of a list of countries classified in green, orange or red according to their epidemiological situation. The United States, which appears in green since June 17, is theoretically open to vaccinated French tourists, the others having to argue for a compelling reason. But like Japan or New Zealand, the country remains closed to foreign visitors.
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Optimistic tour operators
French tour operators say they are optimistic about the resumption of tourism to New York or the national parks this summer. They even want to believe in reopening the borders to Europeans in early July. It must be said that the economic stakes are colossal, says Marco Vasco (Figaro group), one of the destination specialists. “There are plenty of factual reasons to hold on to, advances its CEO, Alexandre Vercoutre. Before the pandemic, the international tourism industry employed roughly 1.2 million people in the United States. Two thirds of jobs, or around 800,000 jobs, were destroyed during the health crisis ”. What push the receptives and agents on the spot, who live from international tourism, to put pressure on the American government.
Reassuring data, both in terms of health and vaccination – more than 45% of the population is fully vaccinated– could also promote the resumption of international tourism, especially as hotels, restaurants, shops … have largely reopened. A few American voices are also being heard on the subject. Airlines are beginning to speak out, and the business daily, the Wall Street Journal, estimated in an editorial titled “Bring back the tourists” that there was “no reasonTo the lack of reciprocity.
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On the other hand, as confirmed in Figaro Geoffrey Duval, president of the United States Tourist Board, gauges remain in effect in some major tourist spots. “To access some National parks , there is a limit and it is obviously necessary to reserve ”. As for the legendary Broadway theaters, “It seems they are reopening in early July. There will be no health pass, this measure will be exclusively reserved for concerts ”.
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Tourism professionals are hoping for only one thing: a quick clarification of the situation. Especially since at present, American and French travelers can already cross paths in various places of the world. “Americans can go to Polynesia or the Caribbean and meet French people”. A lack of consistency that we deplore at Marco Vasco. “Among the absurdities of the moment, there is also the fact that the Uruguayans are allowed to return to the United States while the country is experiencing a very high rate of contamination.”
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The French “in the sights of American tourism professionals ”
The very intense domestic tourism which is announced for the summer of 2021 should economically speaking save the season in the United States. “The Americans have rediscovered their country” during the Covid crisis, assures Geoffrey Duval. But the share of European tourists in the sector is crucial and the French are, in volume, the ninth contributor. They also represent a significant windfall in terms of turnover: the annual expenses of “frenchiesIn the United States weigh 6.5 billion dollars, a figure which has doubled in 20 years, according to the tourist office.
The French traveler therefore has many advantages. “He is a repeater, which is very important for Americans because they are aware that whatever happens, between 1.8 and 1.9 million French people will come and return to us, which is not the case. other European tourists ”, he supports. On average, a French person travels between four and five times in the United States during his life. “The reason is simple, it is possible to make more than a hundred totally different trips across the Atlantic from 1er January to December 31. The only country that can offer so many different routes throughout the year is France ”.
Certain cities and states in the United States continued to specifically target these valued travelers in their communications. New York, Memphis, Seattle or Santa Monica, as well as Arizona or Colorado keep in mind that the French, as soon as the air borders reopen, will come back. “They will be tempted to fly to the United States as soon as they can because they also know they will be safe there,” supports Geoffrey Duval. If the Americans are reopening restaurants and hotels, it is because they have taken all the necessary sanitary measures ”.
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Already a lot of requests
Proof that the desire is there, tourist offices and tour operators are facing a fairly substantial wave of questions from the French. At the head of the subjects, the date of reopening of the borders. “At the moment we receive an average of 60 to 80 emails per day”, says Geoffrey Duval. For his part, the tour operator Marco Vasco notes that the majority of departures planned for this summer are mainly postponed from last summer, “a hundred in total that we maintain for the moment “.
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