Finally the tide seems to be turning! Soon, families of those who fought with the 100th/442nd return to Europe.
After 2 missed seasons – granted, 2021 isn’t over yet, but unlikely to see a big upturn in travel – it brings a great sense of relief that change finally seems to be forthcoming! Our inbox remained dispiritingly empty for months, but over the last few weeks, enquiries started coming in. So many of you are ready to pick up the trail of the 100th/442nd in Europe again!
The world at a standstill
2019 was a great year for Nisei related travel to Europe. We welcomed a number of groups over the course of the year, with the 75th Anniversary Tour of the 100th/442nd in July the largest single departure, welcoming around 130 people to France.
The start of the first lockdown last spring led to the mass cancellation of planned trips in 2020. Hopes for a quick recovery for this year were equally dashed. The initial remedy of simply moving any scheduled tour to the same time in 2021 soon turned out to be impossible as well. Those of us rarely found at home for at least 7 months out of the year, endured an extended “unnatural” state. Tour guides with nowhere to go and no one to meet are unhappy people!
Opening up slowly
Of course, with many long-haul countries still on some form of “red list”, the expectation is for domestic travellers to pick up the slack for the remainder of this year. Many overcrowded places in the past now offer the added joy of visiting them among reduced numbers of tourists.
Deserted streets, no long lines at main sites and almost “private” viewings of masterpieces… What major tourist hot spots have looked like since the start of the pandemic
Every problem always brings new opportunities in its wake. By now, many venues have worked out ways to manage visitor numbers. Simple things like pre-booking and timed entrances for museums allow controlling the number of people on site at all times. Some of the draw-backs of the restrictions, like the limitations on visitor numbers, are offset by knowing in advance how busy the day will be.
The hospitality industry is facing a great number of casualties. Yet, surviving hotels and restaurants have embraced the need to re-evaluate and re-set how they treat their guests. Overpriced tourist traps may have gotten away with bad food and bad service offered to one-time overseas visitors. But are unlikely to be let off the hook again.
City councils and visitor bureaus, bored of pointing thousands of visitors to the same main attractions, so they can tick off another famous venue on their bucket list, are now enthusiastically promoting the lesser-known gems in their territories to perpetuate the “uncrowded” experience by spreading people over more sites.
A return to travel as we know it
Across Europe, countries are working on unlocking their respective tourism sectors. Measures range from reducing the need for quarantine through testing schemes to a traffic light system for vaccinated travellers. Vaccination passports or health certificates are being trialled. All in an attempt to revive a sector that for many countries represents a huge portion of their GDP.
By the time 2022 rolls around, most people will have skipped travelling for a full two years. “Pent up demand” is one of the most frequently used terms in the travel trade at the moment. A return to unrestricted travel will bring its own challenges. Both those who postponed an already booked trip will be competing with new bookings for available space. But I’m sure the entire industry agrees with me that this kind of challenge is much preferred over the alternative we’ve just experienced for the past year and a half.
Italy and France ready to see families of 100th/442nd return to Europe
Several families are looking to make a once-in-a-lifetime trip to trace the footsteps of their relative in the 100th/442nd , both in the spring and in the fall. We have a group gearing up for a study tour throughout the Po Valley in Italy from Memorial Day weekend onward.
For summer, a tour to Italy with a broader cultural scope for those with an interest in the Nisei story, but without deep military interest is in the making. The trip will include activities such as pasta cooking classes, local crafts, arts inspired sites and other fun thing to do on a holiday. In the fall, there will be opportunity to join a tour to the Vosges in France.
And if you have been thinking about making a trip, feel free to check out the possibilities. Head over to our Tours page or let us design a customized trip for your family. We can’t wait to see you all over here!