Travel agent sees relaxed warnings as a good sign for future international travel


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — As the number of COVID-19 cases around the world continues to drop, it may become easier for Americans to travel abroad.

On Tuesday, the US State Department lowered 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 countries with now relaxed travel advisories, which can help airlines and other businesses determine their deals.

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

In a typical year, European travel accounts for 30-40% of Gateway’s summer bookings. Although May isn’t sure when Europe will fully reopen, he recommends people who want to travel there to plan what they can now.

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

From a business perspective, May said he began to see sales pick up this spring as vaccines became more widely available.

Much of their recent bookings have been to beach destinations, such as those in Mexico and the Caribbean, which are once again welcoming tourists.

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

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

May said business has not yet returned to that level, but they are patient as more countries reopen, as they encourage their customers to do the same.

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