As travel experts are optimistic that things will slowly begin to open up again this year, increased vaccination rates and decreasing COVID-19 rates in the U.S. is causing travel advisors are getting back out there – both to fulfill their personal love of travel and encourage clients it’s safe to do so.
While borders aren't open everywhere, there are still opportunities to travel:
Mexico and Caribbean islands have been open to U.S. travelers, as long as they present a negative COVID-19 test and complete a pre-travel form.
Seychelles, a group of islands off the coast of Africa, just announced it will be welcoming visitors from across the globe, regardless of their vaccination status, as of March 25, 2021.
Georgia, which sits at the crossroads between Asia and Europe, has opted to lift restrictions for all visitors who've received two doses of any vaccine. U.S. citizens can travel to Belarus with limited restrictions.
Other countries open to Americans include Egypt, Belize, the Maldives, Morocco, and Peru, among more.
Where travel advisors are going
Diana Hechler, President D Tours International, has plans to travel to Switzerland herself this summer, as long as the borders are open, and spend a lot of time outdoors.
“Switzerland is an ideal place to go in the early post-COVID travel days because most of what you do there is outdoors anyway. I plan to spend my time in Zermatt, Lake Geneva, and Interlachen and to enjoy the spectacular Alpine scenery.”
Anne Blanchard, a travel advisor with TravelOnly in Canada, is planning to take a small group of clients to Banff, Lake Louise & Jasper for a guided small-group active adventure.
Staying stateside, Tracey McGoughy, a travel agent with Carib Compass Travel & Wellness, is traveling to Washington, D.C., California’s wine country, Hawaii, and St. Thomas, as her husband is an essential worker and can't take the risk of getting stuck in another country if the rules are still in place to provide negative COVID tests.
“The whole theme of this is everything keeps getting postponed so needing to be flexible and then finding somewhere that permits Americans. Lots of uncertainty. Coupled with my need to travel and explore and learn,” said Linda de Sosa, leisure travel consultant of Bucketlist Travel Consulting.
After a tulip cruise got moved to November and ASTA postponed Croatia, de Sosa regrouped and planned a trip to Kosovo, which is one of two countries left that she has not visited in Europe, before visiting family in Kenya in April.
In June, she’ll visit Dordogne Valley in France, followed by a tour to Newfoundland to finish up Canada, ‘but don’t know if that will go.” Then she has a tour to Puglia and Croatia in September. In November, she’ll go on the rescheduled tulip cruise in the Netherlands, alas without tulips, and she added a Holocaust research tour to Poland to that.
Steve Briggs of VIP World Travel in Sarasota, Florida, is taking a group of clients on a Viking River cruise in October visiting Paris and Provence and then with another group of clients on a Viking River cruise doing Christmas Markets on the Elbe in Germany in December.
As Egypt is one of the destinations open to Americans, Janette Weber of Avanti Travel in Redding, California is taking a group on a Nile River cruise.
Carla Vandenbrink, travel consultant-connected agent with travel best bets is planning to go camping in Manitoba this summer with plans for a holiday cruise on Royal Caribbean out of Galveston in December.
“I’m starting to be more hopeful about travel and making tentative plans,” Audrey Kennedy, of On The Map Travel, told Travel Market Report.
“I will spend one night in Palm Springs later this month. It will be my first hotel stay in over a year and to be honest, I cannot wait. It’s just a toe in the water, but I am a hotel junkie and I really miss them so much.”
Kennedy is also scheduled to travel to Seville late this fall for the Emotions travel conference. “I feel very positive this can happen. I miss these events where we can see old friends and meet new ones – NOT on Zoom!”
Kennedy also hopes to visit Italy this year and maybe even go on a cruise.
“We will see what comes down the pike in the coming months,” she said. “There is a big question mark right now on all things travel. People have to do what they are comfortable with, but I have hope that with the vaccine rollout, more and more clients will be ready and willing to get back on the road.
"My love of travel is why I got into this business and it doesn’t matter where I go or whether it’s business or pleasure because it’s always both. But I do think my clients will look to me for affirmation that travel is safe and to hear what it’s like now. I will be sharing my experiences with them and I hope it will make me able to put some of their concerns to rest,” she said.
“The idea that we can put the worst behind us is a really uplifting one.”