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Swiss travel industry delighted about opening of US borders

Popular US sites such as the Statue of Liberty will soon be open again to travellers from Switzerland Keystone / Justin Lane

Swiss businesses are rubbing their hands over the planned opening of United States borders to fully vaccinated Europeans, having been shut out for 18 months. Tour operators are already receiving the first bookings.

This content was published on September 21, 2021 - 14:52
Keystone-SDA/AWP/ts

“We’re pleased that holidays in the US are to be possible again from November 2021 – interest in travelling to the US has increased since yesterday,” Hotelplan spokeswoman Bianca Gähweiler said on Tuesday. She said the first bookings had already been made for holidays in warm Florida or for Christmas shopping trips to New York.

TUI Suisse said they had already received questions from customers about whether and when the US will be available again. “We expect that these customers will want to make their bookings in the next few days,” said spokeswoman Milica Vujcic.

On Monday the White House announced that vaccinated foreigners from 33 countries, including Switzerland, could enter the United States from November. Adults will have to prove that they are fully vaccinated before they can board a plane. Travellers must also present a negative Covid test no more than three days old, as before.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients did not give a precise start date for the new rules beyond saying “early November”, and many details of the new policy are still being decided.

This ends a long travel ban to the US. In March 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, then-President Donald Trump ordered an entry ban for non-US citizens from most of the world, including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the US.

‘Important milestone’

DER Touristik Suisse noted the news of the lifting of the travel ban with pleasure and relief, “as the United States, together with Canada, is our most popular long-haul summer destination. So the announcement is highly significant, especially with regard to the 2022 summer business, although states in the south as well as cities definitely have appeal in winter too”.

At TUI Suisse, the US was one of the top-three long-haul summer destinations before Covid broke out. “Many US trips had to be rebooked or even cancelled in recent months. It’s all the more heartening that these trips can now be made up,” Vujcic said.

Hotelplan also expects a significant increase in bookings. “We assume there’ll be a large pent-up demand for tours through the US in particular next summer and that demand for so-called motorhome holidays will increase accordingly for the summer of 2022,” Gähweiler said.

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is also feeling more optimistic. “We’ve noticed a significant increase in booking momentum in the past few hours,” said spokeswoman Meike Fuhlrott.

The US is the most important traffic region for SWISS, she said. Therefore the lifting of the entry ban for fully vaccinated travellers is economically “an important milestone for the airline on the way to returning to its old strength”.

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