March 25, 2023


Just Do Travel

Travel agent calls loosened warnings a good sign for future international travel

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – As the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide continues to decline, it may be becoming easier for Americans to travel internationally.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department downgraded travel warnings for nearly 60 countries from the highest level, “do not travel,” to the second-highest level, “reconsider travel,” out of four total levels.

France, Germany, Canada, and Mexico are among the nations with now-loosened travel warnings, which can help airlines and other companies determine their offerings.

This is a good indication that Europe in particular is starting to open back up, according to Jim May, the owner of Gateway Travel Agency in Marion.

In a typical year, travel to Europe makes up 30-40 percent of Gateway’s summer bookings. While May doesn’t know when Europe will fully open back up, he recommends people looking to travel there should still plan what they can now.

“If you’ve got some dates in mind, we need to be getting some research done for that now,” he said. “Make sure you’ve got your passports ready to go. It takes about four weeks to get those right now. And then most of these destinations in Europe are also going to require vaccination or some proof that you’ve actually had COVID and have the antibodies in your system.”

From a business standpoint, May said they started seeing their sales pick back up this spring, as vaccines became more widely available.

Much of their recent bookings have been for beach destinations, like those in Mexico and the Caribbean, that are welcoming tourists again.

“I would also say that if you’re thinking about traveling, do it soon because they’re starting to fill up on flights and also at the resorts,” May said of those beach destinations.

Right before the pandemic, Gateway Travel Agency was having one of its busiest years in 30 years in business.

May said business hasn’t returned to that level yet, but they’re being patient as more countries open back up, just as they’re encouraging their customers to do as well.

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