FRANCE REALLY READY FOR RE-OPENING

France’s tourism industry is hopeful that a “very bad year” is coming to an end as the European country opened its borders to vaccinated travellers from Canada and other countries yesterday.

Based on a green, orange and red classification system – Canada, along with the US, UK and, indeed, most of the world beyond Europe, is orange – visitors arriving for tourism must show that they have been fully inoculated against the coronavirus with vaccines approved by the European Union’s medicines agency.

France’s acceptance of only the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines means tourism isn’t immediately coming back from the lucrative markets of China and Russia, which use vaccines not approved by the European Medicines Agency.

Without one of those four vaccines, non-EU visitors will still need to prove that they have a compelling reason to visit France and must quarantine on arrival. And for 16 countries deemed high-risk, because they are battling coronavirus surges and worrisome variants, France remains off-limits as a tourist destination, even for would-be travellers who are vaccinated.

These so-called “red” countries include India and some of its neighbours, Brazil and some of its neighbours, as well as Chili, Bahrain, South Africa and Turkey.

Would-be tourists from so-called “orange” countries like Canada still need a recent negative PCR or antigen test as well as proof of vaccination.

If unvaccinated, or inoculated with jabs not approved in Europe, would-be visitors from orange countries outside the continent are not allowed to come into France. They would need to show they have a compelling professional or other reason to visit, and sightseeing isn’t one of them.

Paris tour operator Marc Vernhet hailed the reopening of the borders for vaccinated tourists as “excellent news” but said it is going to take a few more weeks for business to pick up and that “I’m not expecting to work correctly before mid-July.”

His agency, 2CVParisTour.com, is starting to get bookings again for its sightseeing tours conducted in quirky, bug-eyed Citroen cars. June is still very lean, but July is looking better, Vernhet said.

Before the pandemic, Vernhet ran three or four tours of the capital per day. The work dried up when France locked down, and he’s only doing around three tours per week now, nearly exclusively for French visitors.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” he said, “for months and months.”

First published at Travel Industry Today