The global travel and tourism industry has gone from thriving to barely surviving. Before The Great Quarantine of 2020 threw it a curveball, the tourism industry accounted for 10 percent of global GDP. By mid-March 2020 World Health Organization had declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic causing a ripple effect with countries going into lockdown, closing borders, grounding flights and impacting the tourism business. World Tourism Organisation estimates the losses to the sector to between $910 billion and $1.2 trillion.
Nothing will ever be the same again ushering the way for a new normal. Now as relaxations are being made to quarantine, the jury is still out on how long the recovery might take but slowly tourism in many nations is reopening its doors to tourists. Some nations have already agreed on establishing ‘travel bubbles’ whereby groups of countries who have low, manageable rates of infection allow each other’s citizens to enter freely. Others are toying with the idea of ‘tourist corridors’ or ‘air bridges’, a concept that allows tourists to visit without needing to quarantine. And then we have countries such as Cyprus, Mexico and Sicily desperate to salvage this year’s travel season by offering to pay for part of your travel.
Currently, like many countries around the world, India’s borders are sealed in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, travel within the country has restarted with new rules and regulations designed to protect the interests of travellers and those working in the tourism industry. With the number of positive cases still increasing, it is uncertain when international travel from India will resume.
In the meantime, here’s the lowdown on destinations that are reopening and allowing tourists of selective countries -- of course:
From June 16, Austria will be reopening its border for all EU, EFTA (European Free Trade Association) and EEA (European Economic Area) states with four notable exceptions – those are Sweden, Great Britain, Spain and Portugal, and ending quarantine requirements for visitors from more than 20 European countries.
The country is all set to welcome tourists from 31 countries including France, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Austria, from June 15, 2020. It also plans to start a safe "tourist corridor" to the Balearic Islands by partially lifting temporary controls at internal borders.
A compulsory 14-day self-isolation applies to all travellers arriving from abroad, including Germans and permanent residents.
Beginning on June 15, 2020, Greek officials say that tourists from all countries will be allowed to travel into and outside the country. However, those landing from high-risk areas including the U.S. and U.K. will have to undergo a mandatory COVID-19 testing at airports or quarantine. Additionally, temperature checks for all will be implemented in hotels and restaurants. To attract tourists, Greece will temporarily be cutting taxes on transportation, with VAT being reduced from 24 percent to 13 percent in order to make travel to and within Greece cheaper.
Starting June 6, 2020, Portugal has officially allowed air travel from European Union countries except Spain and Italy. In an attempt to boost tourism, the country has even launched a ‘don't cancel, postpone’ scheme, allowing tourists to reschedule any pre-arranged holidays until the end of 2021. In addition, the country has created a free hygiene-certification stamp to distinguish ‘Clean & Safe’ tourism enterprises to increase visitors' confidence.
As part of a move the government has described as a "calculated risk", starting June 3, 2020, Italy has been allowing Europeans to travel in and out, without having to quarantine. All museums, including Rome's Vatican Museums, have been reopening with strict social-distancing rules. St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express have all been opened for business after being closed for over two months. Besides, the Italian island of Sicily will be paying half of visitors' flight costs and a third of hotel expenses should they visit later this year. Other Italian regions such as Sardinia is taking it easy, by allowing international (European) tourism to start only from June 25, 2020.
In hopes of maintaining its “most visited country in the world” tag, France will reopen its borders to tourists from EU and Schengen countries (26 countries that have open borders) on June 15, 2020. Decisions on non-EU and Schengen countries will be made after July 1. However, its most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen only on July 6, 2020. Plans of a ‘travel bubble’ between France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, enabling travel back and forth between the countries, are also in the making. For now, U.K. and Spanish citizens face 14 days of self-isolation. Other travellers must either show a negative coronavirus test until July 2020 or self-isolate.
As one of the most picturesque beach destinations in the world, Maldives is readying itself to open its doors to all tourists starting the first week of July 2020. Some of the many perks of travelling to the Maldives include - no visa, no mandatory Covid-19 testing on either end of their flight to the destination, stay for as long as you like and no self-quarantine either.
As of June 1, 2020, Seychelles is ready to invite travellers from 19 countries. These nations are considered ‘low risk’ and are from the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the South Pacific. Australia, China, Japan, Switzerland and Thailand are some of the nations in this first list. There are another 17 other countries that are being considered.
As of June 1, 2020, Croatia has now reopened to tourists, first by allowing in visitors from 10 countries within the European Union. Remaining European Union countries’ access to Croatia is divided into two separate lists, based on risk and similar epidemiological stats. The Dubrovnik Times also reported that as of June 4, the country welcomes around 33,000 tourists, partially because Forbes put Zagreb, Cavtat and Rijeka among the 20 safest and best European destinations for post-coronavirus travel and tourism.
The country has introduced a three-stage anti-crisis plan, which includes a marketing campaign designed to promote Georgia as a safe destination. Starting June 15, 2020 the Caucasus nation will open up domestic tourism. Two weeks later, starting July 1, 2020, Georgia will allow international travel to set Special Green Tourist Zones of the country.
Some of Mexico's most well-known tourist hotspots—Cancun, Tulum, and Riviera Maya—aim to welcome international travellers by June 8-10, 2020. Mexico is following a traffic light system to reopen tourism based on the amount of COVID-19 infections in an area. Cancun and other destinations in Quintana Roo will also be offering free overnight stays and other steep discounts in attract travellers.
One of the top tourist destinations in Asia, Sri Lanka, will be resuming travel from August 1, 2020. As protocol, visitors are expected to carry a negative COVID-19 test report issued within 72 hours of arrival, apart from undergoing another test at the airport, on arrival, and a third test within five to seven days or earlier if a traveller develops respiratory symptoms. Another test would be carried out if the stay exceeds 10 days. Other measures include the mandatory requirement of pre-booking tour packages, a minimum stay of five days, suspension of on-arrival visas and a flat $100 visa fee.
Egypt will be allowing scheduled international flights and foreign tourists to resorts that have been least affected, starting from July 1. Besides, plans to grant a 50 percent discount on accommodation and landing fees in all tourist cities for charter trips, and a 20 percent discount on ground services at all tourist cities, are also in the making. Top tourist attractions such as the Giza pyramids and Luxor's Karnak temple will be among the few to reopen to tourists but with controls. Luxor's star attraction, the tomb of Tutankhamun, for example, will grant entry to a maximum of 10 people at a time. Other tourist magnets in the densely populated capital, Cairo will open at a later stage.
Switzerland has always been Bollywood’s fave destination – from the likes of Kareena Kapoor-Saif Ali Khan, Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma to Malaika Arora. As of July 2019, the country even saw over eight lakh Indian tourists. Despite the country being voted the safest travel destination according to Deep Knowledge Group, this year it won’t be welcoming desi tourists. However, the country will be reopening its doors to visitors from 30 countries in the EU and EFTA states and Great Britain (the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, France, United Kingdom and Belgium) starting June 15.
The country plans to reopen its borders for international tourism only in September. In the first phase of a plan put forward by the government, South Africa will be welcoming visitors from countries at similar stages of the pandemic. Subsequent phases would expand both the number of countries whose residents are eligible to visit and the destinations within South Africa to be visited.
The Netherlands, Denmark and Iceland
On June 15, 2020, the Netherlands will be reopening to tourists from countries in the European Union and the Schengen region. Denmark’s travel bubble will allow for travel from Germany, Iceland and Norway. Joining these destinations is Iceland, who starting June 15, 2020 and will be testing all arrivals for COVID-19, thereby allowing travellers who test negative to bypass quarantine. Anyone testing positive, however, will have to self-isolate for 14 days.