“We are working hard to propose a very concrete solution, especially for U.S. citizens who are vaccinated — so with a special pass, I would say,” Macron said in the interview, which aired Sunday. He said the issue had been addressed with the White House and added that officials in France were finalizing the discussions.
Macron said a certificate to facilitate travel between European countries was in the works, apparently a reference to the “digital green certificates” launched by the European Union last month that would indicate whether a traveler was vaccinated, recently tested or recovered from the coronavirus. He said the idea was to offer the same option to Americans.
“So the idea is indeed to always control the virus, to maximize the vaccination and to progressively lift the restrictions,” Macron said.
Macron’s interview aired as Greece prepared to open its borders more broadly to tourists. The country on Monday started allowing travelers from the European Union and several other countries to visit without a previously required period of self-isolation. Tourists from the United States, who were banned from entry before, are now allowed to visit. Travelers must have either a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival or proof of full vaccination.
“Greece is opening its borders gradually, in a safe and doable manner,” the country’s page on travel protocols says. Anyone visiting is subject to a random health check.
A more generalized opening is expected to follow on May 14, but details are not yet available.
On Monday the U.S. State Department announced that it would update its travel advisories to mark nearly 80 percent of countries worldwide with a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” designation. France and Greece are currently designated as “Level 3: Reconsider Travel”; it was not immediately clear if the advisories for the two countries would change.
Jack Ezon, founder and managing partner of the luxury travel agency Embark Beyond, said his company has been mostly booking Europe for the past two weeks. Greece, he said, has been the top choice since the country fully committed to opening; more than a quarter of the company’s summer business is for the destination.
With the news from Macron, Ezon said the company is exploring opportunities there. Customers have been asking for France, Italy and Spain, but advisers have been steering them toward Greece because it’s more of a sure bet.
“Clients are desperate to get to the Mediterranean this summer,” he said.
Ezon said many explored the United States last year and are ready to get back to other parts of the world.
“We’re over the national parks, we’re over the whole 'explore America’ idea,” he said. “It was nice.”
Noting a surge in demand, United Airlines announced Monday that it was adding three new international flights to countries that are welcoming vaccinated travelers.
The airline is adding direct flights from Newark airport to Dubrovnik, Croatia; from Washington Dulles International to Athens; and from Chicago O’Hare to Reykjavik, Iceland, starting in July. United said that in the past month, searches on its website for flights to those three destinations were up 61 percent.
“As countries around the world begin the process of reopening, leisure travelers are eager to take a long-awaited getaway to new international destinations,” Patrick Quayle, vice president of international network and alliances for United, said in a statement. “These three new routes unlock the natural beauty of the outdoors for our guests.”
It is not clear when the rest of Europe — where the vaccination rollout has been slower and lockdowns have returned — might start to open up for Americans.
Eduardo Santander, executive director of the European Travel Commission, said in an email that the group expects a reopening of cross-border travel within Europe to be possible by late spring or early summer.
“Obviously, no one can make certain predictions yet, but the midterm objective should remain the restoration of travel from outside Europe to the Schengen area,” he said. “And we hope for a gradual return of U.S. and other international travelers to Europe in late-summer/autumn 2021.”