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03/20/2017

Europe-U.S. visa war may be brewing

WVN – In perhaps the biggest travel news of the season, the European Parliament has voted to require Americans to possess visas when traveling to Europe. As of this writing, the onerous move will go into effect in two months if the United States continues to require visas of five European countries.

Twenty-eight nations belong to the European Union, of which 23 are permitted to enter our country without visas.  The remaining five — Romania, Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria and Cyprus – enjoy no visa-free privileges, and their citizens must take the time and pay the money ($140) to obtain visas for entrance into the United States.

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Why these five countries? For once, there appears to be no specific reason other than bureaucratic delays, which have lasted for years. For once, policies of the Trump administration do not seem to be the reason, since requiring visas of these five countries has been our policy for three years, long predating Trump’s election. And yet many observers claim that harsh Trump statements are the immediate cause of this new pronouncement by the Europeans.

Since it does not appear that the Trump administration will bend in response to Europe’s threat, it may be that a visa war will break out between the United States and Europe, causing grave economic damage to the economies of both. To require Americans to obtain visas to visit Europe will result in a sharp reduction in the number of trans-Atlantic tourists.

All of this goes to illustrate the current administration’s sharp employment of selfish policies on an international scale. One side cannot act without goading the other to retaliate. To require that citizens of Cyprus, for heaven’s sake, possess visas to visit New York or California, is a looney step, and it is just as absurd to treat citizens of Poland (who will now need visas) differently from the manner in which we treat citizens of Belgium (who currently need no visa).

There is hope that the Trump administration will do the sensible thing and add these five European nations to the list of 23 that are visa-free. But the sensible thing doesn’t always come from this new administration. If America stays firm, it may be that tourism in both directions may be badly hurt (causing a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in travel income) if the two regions now require visas of each other’s citizens.

Note to the reader: Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip. The information in this column was accurate when it was released, but prices are competitive, sometimes limited and can always change without notice.

Arthur Frommer is the pioneering founder of the Frommer’s Travel Guide book series. He co-hosts the radio program, The Travel Show, with his travel correspondent daughter Pauline Frommer. Find more destinations online and read Arthur Frommer’s blog at frommers.com. 

Source – Caller.com

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