Turnabout, as they say, is fair play. Since the U.S. does not allow all Europeans to come to the United States without a visa, the European Parliament is now demanding that Americans be forced to apply for visas to travel to Europe.
Visa Rules & Regulations
Currently, citizens from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania cannot enter America without a visa. EU rules call for equal treatment for all Union citizens, and most EU countries are part of the Schengen zone that allows people to travel freely within member countries without passport checks. This makes the need to apply for travel visas an inconvenience—and an incentive for people to travel to destinations that do not require such visas.
The Parliament, by a show of hands, urged the European Commission to adopt restrictive measures against U.S. citizens “within two months,” but lawmakers have little immediate power to ensure that the executive complies with such demands. An official from the European Commission said that contacts are ongoing with the U.S. administration “to push for full visa reciprocity,” but did not say that immediate action would be taken.
A European Parliament source told Telegraph Travel this was a “serious negative step” in the “visa war” between the European Union and the U.S.—and it comes at a time when the country’s tourism scene could use a boost.
The Effects of Restrictions
With the U.S. facing a downturn in visitor numbers, the country might consider reconsidering its policies on visas from trusted nations.
The tourism board of New York City recently reversed its pre-election prediction that the city would see an increase of 400,000 international travelers this year. In fact, the board now expects 300,000 fewer foreign tourists will come to the Big Apple in 2017 than did in 2016.
While requiring visas for Americans wishing to visit Europe may please members from the restricted countries, the economic cost of imposing visa restrictions on the millions of American tourists and business travelers who visit Europe each year is a major disincentive to do so. And while Europe’s travel and hospitality scenes are doing well, imposing more restrictions on a major inbound market isn’t likely to help anybody.
With more travel restrictions in place on both sides of the Atlantic, hotel occupancy and revenue in both the U.S. and throughout Europe would likely take a major hit—which certainly wouldn’t please a president who made his name with hotel development.