Should ITN Cover US Travel Too? Also, European Union temporarily bans Americans

By David Tykol
This item appears on page 2 of the August 2020 issue.
An open-air market with the Baroque backdrop of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier — Palermo, Sicily, Italy.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 533rd issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine.

Over the decades that ITN has been in publication, covering destinations outside of the United States and its territories, occasionally a subscriber has requested that this magazine cover domestic travel as well. In responding, I have always gone back to what ITN’s founder and original publisher, the late Armond Noble, originally had in mind, noting the amazing benefits that have resulted.

What Armond saw a need for was a travel magazine that would print articles and letters written by people who love travel, not by paid travel journalists, giving them the freedom to speak candidly about the places they’ve been and the travel firms and services they’ve utilized.

This would be the first place in which travelers’ honest — and not always positive — opinions about airlines, tour operators, cruise lines, etc., could be shared in print. Such firsthand information was especially needed for destinations overseas, where travel might be complicated by language barriers or unfamiliar customs.

Armond also realized that by restricting coverage in ITN to destinations outside of the US, the magazine would attract a readership of mostly passport holders. This resulted in a very special audience, people who were actually getting out there and traveling.

It’s been several years since we’ve run a demographic survey, but for three decades we used to run them every five years, and the percentages tallied remained virtually unchanged. 98.4 percent of our subscribers had passports, and NO other periodical could claim a percentage that high.

There are obvious benefits to having material submitted by people focused on the cultural and educational rewards of travel rather than on holing up in an all-inclusive beach resort somewhere for a week, mingling only with other vacationers. ITN subscribers have now been sharing their discoveries and recommendations — information about exciting tours, unique experiences and provocative ideas — for over four decades.

All that having been acknowledged, the travel world is topsy-turvy these days, so when we received a letter from a subscriber making a new case for expanding ITN’s coverage to destinations within the United States, it carried a bit more weight this time, especially since it was one of several received on the subject in recent months.

John Reeves of Jackson, California, wrote, “I enjoy your publication very much and always learn new things when I read it. I’m aware that you don’t publish domestic travel items. That policy might have once been sound, but it might be time to reconsider it, at least in a small way. I think there are at least four reasons why you might want to reconsider:

“1.) With the pandemic ongoing and its aftermath to be determined, it appears likely that your subscribers will be doing a lot less international travel in the foreseeable future.

“2.) I’m guessing many of your subscribers are getting up in years. As that happens, the lesser effort of domestic travel can begin to have more appeal. Every time my wife and I go around the world, most recently in 2019, it seems like it gets harder. Suffice to say that next year we’re planning a couple of low-effort trips, including a Mississippi River cruise in the spring. I’d love to see some select domestic trips covered in ITN with the same depth and quality as are afforded to international trips.

“3.) The travel news publication space has become less crowded now that certain magazines have ceased publication, including Lonely Planet Traveller this April and Frommer’s Budget Travel eight years ago. ITN remains a good resource for international travel, but there’s probably room for more quality coverage of domestic travel.

“4.) If you broadened your focus a little into the domestic side, you’d possibly also open up the publication to new advertisers and revenue.

“I’m not suggesting a wholesale change. Keep the primary focus on international travel. However, maybe start to give a little secondary focus to domestic travel. It’s just a suggestion. Keep up the good work.”

After getting John’s email (By the way, thank you, John), I ran it past ITN’s Publisher, Helen Noble, who said, “Well, I wouldn’t want subscribers writing about Disneyland or spring break resorts, but a Mississippi cruise might be OK. Or anything reflecting an area’s local culture or tradition.”

She concluded with, “Let’s let our subscribers decide.”

So that’s what we’re doing.

This could be a historic turning point in ITN’s history, so we need to hear from each of you. Here’s the question:

1. In addition to accepting and printing subscribers’ articles and letters about destinations, tours, cruises, flights, hotels, museums, etc., outside of the US and its territories, should ITN also accept and print such articles and letters about travel WITHIN the US?

(Just to clarify, due to space considerations, items on the “News Watch” page would remain restricted to places outside of the US. In this poll, we’re only asking about the scope of feature articles and letters submitted by subscribers for publication.)

Send us your vote plus any thoughts you have on the matter. Email or write to Should ITN Cover US Travel Too?, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Include the full mailing or billing address for your subscription. We will announce the results and print accompanying comments in a future issue.

There are a couple of things I can state for sure. Anyone who reads ITN loves travel, and our subscribers will continue to look out for each other.

Though the world still has a long way to go to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some signs of progress. In last month’s issue, we named numerous countries that had either begun opening their borders to travelers or had scheduled border openings (July ’20, pg. 5).

In my column in that same issue, I mentioned that the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) had surveyed its 217 member states and found that, as of April 27, not a single one of them had reduced COVID-19-related border restrictions for leisure travelers.

On June 23, the UNWTO listed 48 countries that had begun easing border restrictions. Most of those countries were in Europe.

This will be of little comfort to US travelers, however. Despite earlier announcements from several European Union countries welcoming foreigners, including Americans, to begin traveling there again this summer, the EU Council announced on June 26 that they were banning anyone from the US from entering any EU countries because of the poor record of containment and monitoring of the disease across most of the US.

Americans could only enter the EU if they could provide proof of residency in one of the countries the EU was considering “safe” in regard to COVID-19.

US-based travelers could enter the United Kingdom, no longer part of the EU, with a 14-day quarantine. The Republic of Ireland, an EU member, was accepting travelers from the US, also with a 14-day quarantine.

At press time, there was no indication of when US travelers could begin visiting EU nations, but EU officials said they would be revisiting the list of banned countries every two weeks.

Additionally, the borders of 141 other countries remained completely closed to all travelers.

Fortunately, the number of countries that are accepting leisure travelers increases with each passing week.

A CORRECTION to note —

How sharp-eyed are ITN readers? Dominick Renga of Great Lakes, Illinois, noticed that on page 38 in our April 2020 issue, the map accompanying the feature article on Sicily incorrectly showed the city of Palermo where Alcamo actually is. Palermo is about 25 miles to the northeast.

Thank you for speaking up, Dominick.

And, just a reminder, many of the articles and letters in this issue were written about trips taken before the COVID-19 travel shutdown, back when people were free to congregate. The advice and recommendations will hold once things open back up, so don’t stop bookmarking pages.

Enjoy this issue, then give us your opinion on whether ITN should cover US travel too!