US travellers leave Europe for first time since 2008

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The US urged travellers to fly with extra caution As US security measures return to full force, American tourists are starting to return to Europe in greater numbers than…

US travellers leave Europe for first time since 2008

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The US urged travellers to fly with extra caution

As US security measures return to full force, American tourists are starting to return to Europe in greater numbers than in recent years.

The crackdown on potential weapons for the August holiday season, including on flights from the UK, has prompted a 29% rise in Americans visiting the continent so far this year.

Some 45.5 million US tourists are expected to travel to Europe in 2017, the first time the figure has exceeded 40 million since 2008.

This comes despite US security warning travellers to fly with extra caution.

‘Ensure safety’

Ongoing security concerns in Europe, particularly around attacks in France and Belgium, have led to US visitors being more alert, say industry insiders.

The “useful” British police warnings also increase awareness of potential dangers, say the US travel association, Ascent.

“International travellers from the US to Europe will be reminded that security cannot be relaxed,” Mark Borer, senior vice president of industry affairs, said.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Over-the-counter psychoactive substances, also known as zombie drugs, were included in the security clampdown

“This travel is of the utmost importance, and carriers continue to adjust their schedules to address current conditions to ensure safety for their customers.”

Following the Paris attacks in November 2015, Britain has taken a more permissive approach to the use of legally available psychoactive substances. Over-the-counter vapes, so-called zombie drugs, were included in the security clampdown.

Across Europe, the number of US tourists rose 10% in 2017 compared with the previous year to 49.6 million – the highest number recorded since 2010.

Concerns about migrant flows

But even though the US passport is a key way to get into the EU, the travel industry wants US authorities to maintain special visas for the European Union in case of any change to current arrangements.

US President Donald Trump’s policies have caused tension between Brussels and Washington, especially when it comes to migration policies.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Travel experts say security concerns from foreign airports are a consideration

There are concerns that increased American pressure on internet firms and airlines to delete terror content may disrupt the flow of tourists from the US.

But travel industry experts say that security concerns from foreign airports and international transportation are also a consideration.

German states have taken the opportunity to claim the European Commission has not been strict enough with internet companies and accused them of providing uncritical support to Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

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