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Summer travel to return as EU agrees to let vaccinated Americans visit


(NEW YORK) — Summer travel bookings are surging as vaccination numbers rise and borders reopen.

The European Union announced on Wednesday it will open its doors to vaccinated Americans who have been barred from entering for more than a year.

“I think folks are really eager to make their first trip back,” Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights and author of Take More Vacations, told ABC News. “They’ve been vaccinated and feel safe and comfortable traveling — they want to make their first trip a big one.”

Hopper, a travel-booking app, reported that airfares to Europe have increased 17% since the beginning of May, with round trips averaging about $880. Hopper said it expects those prices to rise after the EU’s announcement.

“The resurgence in demand for travel is in full swing,” Keyes said. “If you look at the number of flight searches, especially the more iconic travel destinations like Hawaii or Cancun, it’s higher today than it was at the same time two years ago before the pandemic — it’s not even close.”

U.S. airlines are betting big on Americans catching the travel bug this summer, adding capacity to destinations like Iceland and Croatia that have announced they’ll accept vaccinated Americans.

“They really want to take advantage of that spike in interest to visit those places after they announced that they’re open for tourism again,” Keyes said.

The demand for travel also is increasing domestically, with more Americans considering “staycations.”

American Airlines said it expects to serve in 2021 approximately 90% of its 2019 summer capacity, while United Airlines said current bookings are “far outpacing bookings for summer 2020.”

Domestic airfare prices, according to Hopper, are expected to increase 16% this spring, peaking in late June.

By Independence Day, Hopper is forecasting domestic airfare prices to approach pre-pandemic levels.

Danielle Wilson from Columbus, Ohio, who calls herself “thrifty with pride,” is planning to travel with her family this summer for the first time since the pandemic started.

“We cannot wait,” Wilson said, adding that their dream trip with their 1-year-old son would be “anywhere that has a sandy beach.”

“Our biggest winner right now is Destin, Florida,” she said.

Wilson said even though she’s spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week with her husband and son during the pandemic, she’s looking forward to spending more time together — albeit a bit differently — on vacation.

“It’s more of that experience of just being together, watching our son, whether it’s seeing the mountains for the first time seeing the beach for the first time, kind of building those memories with him,” she said. “That’s what we’re most excited about — just to get outside of our daily routine, get away from work and get away from house chores.”

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