Can European river cruise lines increase tourism with vaccinations?
Can required vaccinations help travel? Several European Countries are starting to do just that.
Will European river cruise lines increase tourism with required vaccinations? Today I explore this worthwhile question. However, we all in the travel industry know the battles raging over required COVID vaccinations. The vaccine fighting rages.
However, other parts of travel, like TSA PreCheck that segments unvaccinated travelers, are acceptable. The British and French versions of "Fast Lane" customs and border patrol line access seem normal today. And we all can see differences between first and coach class on planes whenever we board international flights.
However, Europe has its own vaccination QR code that separates the vaccinated from anti-vaxxers. Change is on the way. Europeans who are not vaccinated are starting to be excluded from many group activities.
European river cruises may be a perfect test of vaccination passports
Like many Americans, I'm armchair traveling in my mind on a regular basis. Unfortunately, while The NY Times has paused its well-regarded (and much-missed) Sunday Travel section. I still daydream every day of being able to actually travel again. For me, the announcement by some river cruise lines that they will require passengers to be vaccinated seems like hopeful news indeed.
Daydreaming is one thing, but a vaccination requirement is another. Will the general public embrace vaccinations or reject them? However, using European river cruise lines to increase tourism through mandatory vaccinations makes sense.
For starters, it will be relatively easy on the basis of a number. River cruises tend to be 100 to150 passengers, plus crew. And the average age on a river cruise is not exactly 20 somethings. Even with an increasing number of "younger" people on board, most passengers are adults in the 45-to-65-years-old range, with some cruisers much older than that.
River cruise clients tend to be older and safer
While estimates vary as to when a vaccine will be available to anyone who wants it, Americans who are age 50 and older in most states are (at the time of writing) at least approaching eligibility.
And, even if vaccines don't make people feel completely safe, it seems like a river cruise would check a lot of boxes both for passengers and cities and towns where the boats would dock.
For passengers, while the boats usually dock in towns, which makes sightseeing easy, having one cabin for a week means less exposure to a large variety of hotels, staff, etc. Plus, with meals available onboard, anyone nervous about eating or drinking in public places can easily avoid that.
Pre-screened passengers offer the safest tourists and may encourage travel
Pre-screened boat passengers could be comforting to riverports where the boats might dock or attractions shore excursions might visit. It seems to me it would be a benefit to know they'd be dealing with a group of vaccinated people.
On my last river cruise, I remember a few winery tours with groups of about 20 at a time. Soon, much of the world, but not everyone, will be vaccinated. This would make life much easier for wineries to know they would be dealing with the safest possible visitors.
Proof of vaccination may open river cruises and some bus tours
Another benefit of river cruises demanding passengers be vaccinated is that tour companies might feel pressure to join in. Other tour operators may also add the requirement. While roads themselves may be open to anyone, bus parking lots, for starters, are more tightly controlled and regulated. Anyone who's ever been to, say, Mont Saint-Michel or Carcassonne in France may remember this.
Local governments, especially in late 2021 and 2022, wanting tourist dollars without putting their own people at risk in some countries decided to make vaccinations a condition for all travelers.
Travelers yearn for a return to normalcy
Again, we all know things can and will change incredibly quickly. Will tours require "upload a picture of your vaccination certificate" to your pre-departure information? Such a requirement may be a big step towards a return to European travel semi-normalcy. There is already a European Union QR Code that shows your vaccination status. In Italy, it is working for tourists and locals. well for vaccinated tourists at least.
And, don't we all wish now for even semi-normalcy.
Janice Hough is a California-based travel agent a travel blogger and a part-time comedy writer. A frequent flier herself, she’s been doing battle with airlines, hotels, and other travel companies for over three decades. Besides writing for Travelers United, Janice has a humor blog at Leftcoastsportsbabe.com (Warning, the political and sports humor therein does not represent the views of anyone but herself.)