Tourists are heading to the US for COVID-19 vaccine shots and airlines and travel companies are using the opportunity to market and expand services, the Wall Street Journal reported.
While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city could soon offer tourists coronavirus vaccines at mobile vaccination centers this summer as the city prepares to open up, tourists have been coming to the US, mainly from Mexico, and getting vaccinated.
The Journal reported that tens of thousands of tourists from Mexico as well as other countries have already flown into US states like Texas and Florida to get a shot. Many US states, including Texas, don't require proof of residency for the coronavirus vaccine.
USA Today previously reported that thousands of affluent Latin Americans, including politicians, TV personalities, and business executives, were coming to the US for COVID-19 shots. Some were chartering flights or taking buses to get the vaccine.
Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then got on a bus to a vaccination site, twice, to get both doses of the vaccine. They traveled 1,400 miles altogether to get the shots.
"It's a matter of survival," Gónzalez said. "In Mexico, officials didn't buy enough vaccines. It's like they don't care about their citizens."
Mexico has fully vaccinated 6% of its population, as only those over 60 are eligible for a dose at this time, the Journal reported. They also reported that some travel agencies are advertising vaccines as part of their packages.
"Enjoy Dallas, Includes Covid Vaccine," one Mexico travel agency ad said, according to the Journal. Mexican airlines have also increased the frequency of flights between the country and South Texas.
Another Thai tour group is also advertising a vaccine package to California. A Thai travel agent told the Journal that her company had already booked 200 people on a vaccine tour to the US. Each tourist paid $2,400, excluding airfare, for a 10-day trip to California that included a single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Journal reported that vaccine tourism, specifically the travel from Mexico, is helping revive the economy in several Texas cities as visitors who book hotels shop locally and visit attractions while they're there.