Europe to welcome vaccinated visitors; CDC says Americans shouldn't travel

After more than a year of avoiding nonessential travel, fully vaccinated Americans may finally be able to add Europe to their summer destination lists.

In an interview with the New York Times, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said she expects all 27 European Union member states to accept American travelers who have been inoculated.

Countries announcing reopening plans are already seeing a surge in demand, according to Adit Damodaran, an economist at Hopper, a travel information and planning platform. 

"Right now, the highest demand is for Iceland — we saw a 90% spike in searches to Iceland," Damodaran said. "The second highest is Greece — we saw a 40% spike in searches to Athens and other cities in Greece."

The company is predicting international airfare to rise about 8% going into May, and then another 3% heading into June.

European officials finalizing plans to allow U.S. tourists back this summer

"The good news for travelers is that's still down 9% from summer 2019 prices, so we're not back at 2019 levels," Damodaran said.

The International Air Transport Association is developing an app that will allow passengers to share tests and vaccination status with governments in place of mandatory quarantine. However, IATA officials refuted von der Leyen's comments.

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"The freedom to travel should not exclude those who are unable to be vaccinated," IATA said in a statement. "The presentation of negative COVID-19 test results should also facilitate travel."

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In the meantime, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans to avoid travel to Europe altogether because most countries remain under a Level-4 travel advisory, which means "do not travel," due to continued high levels of COVID-19.