The removal of the United States from the EU's list of safe-travel countries has had a negative effect on tour operator bookings, according to the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA).
In a survey conducted by USTOA following the announcement, two-thirds of USTOA Active Members reported a decrease in overall demand for new bookings. Roughly nine out of ten (88%) of USTOA Active Members who responded to the survey operate tours or packaged travel itineraries to Europe.
The research also found that 74 percent of USTOA Active Members who operate in Europe reported guests with existing 2021 European bookings postponed their travel and rebooked for a later departure date following the EU announcement. Additionally, 60 percent said that guests with existing 2021 bookings to EU countries canceled their travel plans.
"What we have heard from our tour operator members is that the EU policy change--and the resulting news coverage--immediately raised confusion among travelers, along with hesitation and doubts about their ability to proceed with European vacation plans this year," said Terry Dale, USTOA president and CEO. "In fact, vaccinated Americans, for the most part, can move forward with their travel plans to Europe and many of our members have been operating travel programs and tours successfully in Europe for months."
While tour operators reported cancellations and postponements, there are also plenty of clients who still plan to travel.
"However, it is encouraging that despite the influence of the EU news more than three-fourths (79 percent) of our tour operator members reported having guests who are proceeding with their booked 2021 Europe travel," Dale noted.
Other destinations have been minimally affected by the EU announcement. According to USTOA, 67 percent of members said the announcement had no effect on other destinations. Nineteen percent of Active Members surveyed said that they saw an uptick in bookings for non-EU destinations after the announcement.
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