Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Most Welcoming Countries for Americans

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Mexico City, Mexico
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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Live and Invest Overseas.

Summer 2023 has been the season of international travel for Americans, who have touched down in Europe and the Pacific region in record numbers.

American arrivals in Europe are expected to surpass last year’s numbers by 55%, and the season isn’t over yet. The top places U.S. travelers are visiting are London, Paris, Rome, and Dublin, according to travel booking app Hopper.

American, Delta, and United reported double- and triple-digit increases in passenger revenue and passenger miles traveled on trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes in the first and second quarters of this year.

Americans Are Hungry for International Travel

Hands exchanging passports, tickets through service window.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

This surge in demand for international travel is likely explained by three years of lockdowns and being forced to stay close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s reflected by the record-breaking numbers of passport applications at the U.S. Department of State, which received 500,000 per week in July.

Not everyone will be lucky enough to get away this year. The State Department is struggling with a passport application backlog because of pandemic-related staff shortages.

The agency won’t get back to its normal processing time for routine passport applications (six to eight weeks) before the end of this year. It’s currently quoting 10 to 13 weeks for applications starting on or after March 24, 2023.

For those without a U.S. passport in hand, you still have a few options for getting away. Americans can visit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without one.

For those looking to travel internationally, where should you be heading?

Europe’s Hotspots May Not Be Worth It

Sistine Chapel
JurateBuiviene / Shutterstock.com

If your heart is set on Europe, be prepared to pay for it. The average ticket to the continent costs US$1,200 right now, a 23% increase since summer 2019.

You should also be prepared for crowds. Europe’s hotspots are overrun, and many of its most iconic locations have imposed bans, fines, and taxes to discourage more people from visiting.

Rome has restricted access to the Trevi Fountain. Athens implemented a time-slot system for the Acropolis, where tourists reportedly have to wait more than two hours to see the monument.

Amsterdam has launched a “Stay Away” campaign to crack down on crowds. “To keep our city livable, we now opt for limitations instead of irresponsible growth,” says Deputy Mayor Sofyan Mbarki.

My advice is to skip the hotspots, especially ones that seem to be trying to discourage crowds, and head to the places that actually want you there.

The good news is there are unique and desirable destinations all over the world that embrace visitors, particularly Americans, with open arms.

How Do Other Countries Perceive Americans?

Confused couple holding luggage preparing for flight on vacation
Asier Romero / Shutterstock.com

I hear from American retirees on both sides of the political spectrum every day, and their outlook on the current state of affairs in the U.S. is generally negative.

Despite this, much of the rest of the world has a positive opinion of the nation.

A Pew Research Center study shows that a median of 59% of the 23 nations surveyed held a favorable view of the United States.

Many countries, including a few you might not expect, welcome American tourists, who can be seen as friendly, outgoing, wealthy, and generous tippers — even when they don’t have to be.

Welcoming Countries for Americans

Jaffa and Tel Aviv, Israel
Boris Stroujko / Shutterstock.com

The two most pro-American countries in the world are Poland and Israel, with 93% and 87% of survey participants holding favorable views of the U.S., respectively, according to Pew. These are the highest percentages recorded for those countries since the survey was started.

South Korea follows Poland and Israel in Pew’s survey, with a 79% favorable view of the U.S., followed by Japan (73%), Nigeria (74%), Kenya (71%), India (65%), Brazil (63%), and Mexico (63%).

Any of these places would be fantastic travel choices. It makes sense that their positive views of the U.S. would translate into a welcoming environment for American tourists.

Another way to determine where American tourists are welcome is by looking at their tourist visa policies.

The majority of the world’s nations allow tourists to visit for one to three months at a time. Albania, Georgia, and Palau are exceptions, allowing Americans to visit for an entire year at a time.

While not mainstream travel choices, these generous tourist allowances give you a chance to fully immerse yourself in these countries.

Countries With Strong Heritage Ties to the U.S.

Dublin, Ireland
Madrugada Verde / Shutterstock.com

Countries that have strong heritage ties to the United States also tend to be more welcoming toward American tourists.

Two of the biggest ancestry groups in the United States are Irish Americans, who number 33.5 million, and Italian Americans, who number 17.3 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Ireland received 7 million visitors in 2022, and 1.5 million of those people were from North America. Ireland is just as eager to receive U.S. tourists as Americans are to visit the country.

While Dublin is the focus of travel itineraries, a recent spike in crime in the capital city means Ireland’s small towns and villages, where the true Irish spirit still dominates, are better choices.

The United States and Italy also have strong kinship ties, and Americans make up the second-biggest slice of Italy’s tourism arrivals. It received more than 6 million U.S. tourists in 2019.

While its most famous destinations are currently overrun, there are still places in Italy where you can enjoy the local hospitality without the crowds. Some of its most underrated regions include Umbria, Abruzzo, and Emilia-Romagna.

Citizenship Opportunities

Italian passport from Italy
Zigres / Shutterstock.com

In both Ireland and Italy, Americans with the relevant heritage can pursue citizenship.

You can become a citizen of Ireland if one of your grandparents was born in Ireland or if one of your parents was an Irish citizen when you were born.

In Italy, you can pursue citizenship if you can prove it was transmitted from your Italian-born ancestor to you.

All that to say … ours is a big, beautiful, welcoming world.

We’ll continue doing our best to help you take full advantage of all the opportunity it offers.

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