The European Union agreed to open the door to American tourists for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, giving a boost to the continent’s crucial tourism industry and Americans’ summer travel options. The EU on Wednesday added the U.S. to the bloc’s list of countries from which tourists can enter, according to diplomats. After the measure is rubber stamped at an EU meeting in Brussels on Friday, Americans will be free to visit the 27-nation bloc for the first time since March 2020. The EU last month said it intended to open up to Americans but hadn’t set a date for when it would become official.
Some EU countries heavily dependent on tourism, including Italy and Greece, already have opened to Americans. Mediterranean countries would struggle to absorb another summer with few foreign tourists after last year’s costly lockdowns. Italy, Greece and France all suffered gross-domestic-product declines of more than 8% in 2020. Spain’s economy shrank by 11%.
With the U.S. now on the list, most restrictions will be removed across the region, though countries can add their own requirements for entry. Most countries are expected to require tourists show either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid-19 test or a document attesting they have recovered from the disease. Japan, Australia, Israel and several other countries already are on the EU list. Countries added this week with the U.S. include Serbia and Lebanon.
In deciding which nations to add to the list, which is normally revisited every two weeks, the EU considers the infection rate and whether a country has opened to European tourists. Meetings have been held between the two sides to decide when the U.S. would allow EU tourists to visit.