Tourist destinations are re-opening to tourists – find out which ones
Popular travel destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lock down measures and are moving toward welcoming tourists back. If you’re one of many Globe Aware volunteers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, here’s another updated guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen.
Which international destinations are reopening to tourists?
Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN • Updated 3rd July 2020
(CNN) — Although many governments are still advising against “nonessential” international travel, a host of popular destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions and are moving toward welcoming tourists back.
On July 1, the European Union announced it would be reopening its external border to 15 countries outside of the bloc in a bid to boost its travel industry.
Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay are all included in the list, along with China, provided it agrees to lift restrictions on EU citizens.
However, the United States, which now has the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 infections in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, was not included.
Meanwhile the UK has formed “travel corridors” with 59 different countries, while Caribbean islands like Jamaica have already opened their doors to foreign visitors again.
“Travel bubbles” are also becoming more popular, with the likes of Fiji, Australia and New Zealand considering following the lead of Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, who have lifted restrictions for each other’s citizens.
If you’re one of many travelers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, here’s a guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen, as well as some of those that are keeping their borders firmly closed for now.
Aruba will slowly reopen to tourists between June 15 and July 10.
Visitors from nearby Caribbean islands Curacao and Bonaire will be permitted to enter first, followed by travelers from Canada and Europe on July 1.
Tourists from the United States will be allowed to visit from July 10.
While it was previously suggested travelers would not be required to to take a Covid-19 test on arrival or prior to traveling, it seems this is no longer the case.
Like many other destinations, Aruba is giving visitors the option to either provide a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before their visit, or receive a test on arrival.
However, the cost of the test, which must be paid for in advance, is the responsibility of the traveler.
The island has also introduced mandatory insurance coverage, the Aruba Visitors Insurance, which will cover any expenses if visitors test positive for the virus during their trip.
Nonessential businesses including shopping malls, cinemas, beauty salons and outdoor restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 25, while the island country’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew was completely lifted earlier this month.
Restaurants with indoor seating have now been allowed to reopen, although diners must leave before 10 p.m., along with spas, and saunas.
In addition, the department of Public Health has introduced the “Aruba Health & Happiness Code,” a mandatory cleaning and hygiene certification program for all businesses related to tourism in the country.
Bali has been relatively successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with less than 1,500 confirmed cases and, at the time of writing, a total of 11 deaths.
The Indonesian island now hopes to welcome tourists back by October, provided its infection rates stay low.
According to a statement from Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, Yogyakarta, situated on the island of Java, is likely to reopen first, along with the Riau islands province.
Bali’s economy is hugely dependent on tourism and visitor numbers have been rising in recent years, with around 6.3 million people visiting in 2019.
“The coronavirus has collapsed the Balinese economy … it’s been a steep drop since [mid-March] when social-distancing measures were put in place,” Mangku Nyoman Kandia, a Bali tour guide, told ABC News in April. “No tourist, no money.”
All foreign nationals, except for diplomats, permanent residents and humanitarian workers, are currently banned from Indonesia, and anyone entering the island must undergo a swab test and provide a letter stating they are free of Covid-19.
It’s unclear what the entry requirements will be if restrictions are lifted later this year, or whether Bali will accept travelers from regions badly affected by the pandemic.
However, tourism officials have been calling for a “travel bubble” to be implemented between Bali and Australia.
Barbados has announced it will be reopening its borders to international travelers from July 12.
However, visitors will have to adhere to a number of strict requirements.
All tourists from “high risk” countries will be “strongly encouraged” to take a Covid-19 test at least 72 hours before departing for Barbados, according to a recent press release from the Barbados Tourist Board.
Meanwhile, those from “low risk” destinations can be tested a week before visiting the Caribbean island.
Visitors also need to complete an online Embarkation/Disembarkation Card (ED card), which asks a series of health questions connected to Covid-19 symptoms.
Those who don’t provide a negative test result “from an accredited or recognized laboratory” in advance will must take one on arrival, and will be placed in quarantine “at their own expense” until the results come through. This is likely to take up to 48 hours.
While visiting the island, travelers must comply with local protocols, including keeping a physical distance of one-meter away from others and wearing face masks in public.
Barbados’ nationwide curfew is due to be lifted on July 1, while commercial air traffic will resume 11 days later.
UK flag carrier British Airways will restart services to Barbados on July 18, with US airline JetBlue following suit on July 25 and Virgin Atlantic on August 1.
Cyprus is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation.
According to a letter shared with CNN, the Cypriot government will pay for lodging, as well as food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit.
The detailed plan was set out in a five-page letter issued to governments, airlines and tour operators on May 26.
Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be available to patients’ family and “close contacts.”
“The traveler will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight, in collaboration with their agent and/or airline,” states the letter.
The country’s hotels began to reopen on June 1, while international air travel restarted on June 9.
Once the destination reopens, visitors from only chosen countries will be allowed to enter.
Officials have issued a list of countries to be granted access to Cyprus in two separate stages.
Incoming flights from Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania will be authorized first.
From June 20, Cyprus will also permit incoming flights from Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
The UK and the US, both listed among the nations with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths, are noticeably absent.
However, the list is to be expanded to include further countries in the coming months.
Travelers heading to Cyprus will need to provide a valid certificate proving they’ve tested negative for Covid-19, while they’ll be subject to temperature checks on arrival as well as testing at random during the course of their trip.
The destination has already put measures in place to protect travelers and residents, such as ensuring hotel staff wear masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting sunbeds and keeping tables at restaurants, bars, cafés,and pubs at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart.
Tourism accounts for at least 15% of Cyprus’s economy.
Tourism brings in around $1 billion in revenue for Egypt each month, so the impact of the travel restrictions caused by the pandemic has been significant.
The government suspended passenger flights back in March, while all hotels, restaurants and cafes were closed and a night curfew imposed.
These measures are currently being relaxed, with hotels that meet certain requirements, such as having a clinic with a resident doctor on site, being granted permission to reopen for domestic visitors at a reduced capacity.
But a curfew remains in place between 8p.m. and 5 a.m — although this is due to be lifted on June 27 — and the government has made wearing masks mandatory in public places and public transport.
Although international flights are yet to begin operating again — bar a select few routes — the cabinet has indicated scheduled international flights will be allowed to enter from July 1, while foreign tourists will be permitted at the resorts least affected by Covid-19.
“We have to prepare,” cabinet spokesman Nader Saad said during a televised interview last month.
“A number of global carriers have expressed willingness to resume flights to Egypt in July, and as a result we are considering a gradual resumption of international flights beginning towards the end of this month and in the first half of July.”
France was the most visited country in the world before the coronavirus pandemic.
While restrictions were previously in place on all nonessential travel from outside the Schengen Zone (a grouping of 26 countries which normally have open borders), the measures are due to be lifted for 15 countries outside of the EU, including Australia, Canada and Japan.
At present all travelers who enter France, with the exception of EU citizens, are subject to a compulsory 14-day quarantine.
UK citizens were previously exempt from this measure. However, this was recently amended in response to the UK’s decision to apply its mandatory 14-day quarantine, which is set to be amended soon, to arrivals from France.
Although the government has been slowly lifting lockdown measures, with car journeys of up to 100 kilometers now allowed and beaches beginning to reopen, officials have previously made it clear the country is in no hurry to ease border restrictions for international travelers..
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a $19.4 billion stimulus package to boost France’s ailing tourism sector.
“What is good for tourism is often good for France, what strikes tourism strikes France,” he said during a news conference.
The country’s hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés were granted permission to reopen on June 2.
Meanwhile Paris was downgraded from a “red zone” to a “green zone” in mid-June and the city has now reopened.
France’s most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen on July 6.
“Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history,” added Philippe. “Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority.”
He went on to state that residents can take holidays within France during July and August.
The country’s hotels will be reliant on domestic tourism once they do reopen, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.
“When the lockdown measures soften, French tourists are likely to want to stay close to home in the short term,” a spokesperson for French hotel chain Accor told CNN Travel earlier this month.
“It will be the moment for them to rediscover their own country and we will be there to welcome them.”
Georgia was experiencing a tourism boom before the coronavirus pandemic, with five million travelers visiting in 2019, a 7% increase on the previous year.
But the country was forced to close its winter resorts and place a ban on all foreign visitors back in March because of the crisis.
Eager to revive its tourism sector, the country’s government had previously said it planned to reopen to international travelers on July 1, but this has been pushed back until July 31 due to a “rapid increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in the partner and neighboring countries.”
Officials have brought in a three-stage “anti-crisis” plan, which includes a marketing campaign designed to promote Georgia as a “safe destination.”
The next stage will allow for domestic travel in special “safe” tourism zones, while the final stage involves reopening borders and resuming some flights.
“We are transitioning to the third stage [of Covid-19 response], which means post-crisis management of the economy and devising plans [on] how to kickstart different sectors,” Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at a council meeting focused on fighting Covid-19.
“[The] tourism sector will be first to which emergency relief measures will apply.”
The land of poets and thinkers lifted travel restrictions for travelers from 31 different countries on June 15.
The approved destinations included the 26 EU member states, as well as the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
“The revitalization of tourism is important both for travelers and the German travel industry, as well as for the economic stability of the respective target countries,” read a statement from a paper called “Criteria for the Enabling of intra-European Tourism,” which was issued last month.
The Austria/Germany land border has also reopened — travel between Austria and Germany is possible as of June 15 — and restrictions around the country are being relaxed.
Visitors from destinations such as Australia and Canada will also be allowed to enter soon due to the EU’s decision to lift restrictions on various countries outside of the bloc.
Bars, restaurants and museums have reopened, while some hotels have begun to resume business.
Chancellor Angela Merkel recently announced social distancing rules would continue until at least October.
International direct flights to Greece’s many holiday destinations restarted on July 1 for travelers from most of the EU and list of 14 additional EU-approved countries, with travelers subject only to random checks.
Greece has also extended its travel ban on direct flights from the UK and Sweden until July 15. All information is expected to be updated by mid-July.
The US, Greece’s third largest market, is not included on the EU list. Nearly 2 million Americans visited Greece in 2019. The country has been attracting a growing number of US travelers in recent years and was projected to grow further in 2020.
Russia also failed to make the EU list meaning that Greece will enter its peak season without the three countries that in 2019 accounted for about 20% of its tourism revenue.
Greece is also opening its international ports and some border crossings for the first time since the country imposed a strict lockdown over three months ago.
The country is being hailed as one of the safest destinations for holidaymakers in the Mediterranean this summer with under 200 deaths from Covid-19 and less than 3,500 cases in a population of 11 million.
As part of the measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, international travelers are required to fill in a detailed passenger form. The Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will have to be completed online at least 48 hours before entering the country and includes information such as duration of previous stays in other countries during the two weeks prior to travel, and the address of stay in Greece.
Travelers will receive QR codes based on an algorithm that will calculate those most at risk of spreading a coronavirus infection. Authorities will use the QR code to identify passengers who need to be tested upon arrival, Greece’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has said.
Those tested must quarantine overnight pending results. Those who test positive will be quarantined for up to 14 days.
Travelers from outside the European Union hoping to visit Hungary this summer will have to wait a little longer.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced Thursday that the Central European country would only be reopening its borders to one of the 14 EU-approved “safe” countries in order to protect the “health interests” of residents.
Its southern neighbor Serbia, home to a large ethnic Hungarian minority, was the sole non-EU country to make the cut.
The decision came just days after the EU’s request for its member states to lift travel restrictions for various countries outside the bloc, including China, provided it reciprocates the move, Australia and Japan.
“For the time being, with the exception of Serbia, we can’t comply with the EU’s request that we allow entry to citizens from outside the bloc because that would be contrary to the health interests of the Hungarian people,” Orban said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
However, Hungary will reinstate a “humanitarian corridor” for travelers passing through the country, according to the prime minister.
At the time of writing, Hungary had reported over 4,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 587 deaths.
Although lockdown restrictions have been lifted throughout the country, wearing a face mask is mandatory while in shops and on public transport.
Iceland reopened it borders to tourists on June 15 after recording just under 2,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The move came weeks after the Nordic country banned all foreign nationals, except for nationals of the EU and associated European countries.
Up until recently, everyone arriving from outside the country was required to go into quarantine for 14 days.
However, travelers now have the option to either submit to a Covid-19 test on arrival, provide proof of a recently taken test with a negative result, or agree to a two-week quarantine.
Although the tests are currently free, a $112 charge will be implemented from July 1.
Visitors will also be encouraged to download the app Rakning C-19, designed to help trace the origin of transmissions and available in seven languages — Icelandic, English, Polish, German, French, Spanish and Italian.
“When travelers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic,” Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation said in an official statement last month.
“Iceland’s strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far.
“We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us.”
Italy has been one of the destinations worst hit by the pandemic, but the hugely popular European country is keen to get its tourism industry up and running now that infection rates have slowed down.
Travelers from the EU, along with the UK and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, were allowed to enter without having to go into quarantine starting June 3, in a move the government has described as a “calculated risk.”
“We’re facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address to the nation earlier this month.
“We have to accept it; otherwise, we will never be able to start up again.”
However, Italy, has also indicated it will not be complying with the EU’s request to lift travel restrictions for 14 countries outside the bloc.
A mandatory quarantine remains in place for all other nations and it seems officials are not planning to lift this any time soon.
“The situation on a global level remains very complex,” Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza told Italian news agency ANSA shortly after the announcement was made on Tuesday.
“We must not allow the sacrifices of Italians in recent months being made in vain.”
All museums, including Rome’s Vatican Museums, have been slowly reopening throughout May with strict social-distancing rules. Bars and restaurants were permitted to reopen with reduced numbers of diners as well as plastic shields to divide customers, on May 18.
St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican also opened its doors again on May 18 after being closed for over two months, the Leaning Tower of Pisa has reopened, while the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is scheduled to return to railways on July 8.
Jamaica reopened to international tourists on June 15, nearly three months after closing its borders.
Up until the end of June, travelers heading to the Caribbean island will be required to complete a travel authorization form within 72 hours of departure and be willing to undergo a test for Covid-19 on arrival.
A “resilient corridor” has also been introduced, limiting the movement of visitors to a section of Jamaica’s northern coast between Negril and Port Antonio.
Hotels and businesses within this area are allowed to reopen provided they have received a “Covid-19 Readiness Certificate”.
Visitors will also be required to adhere to local protocols, such as wearing face masks or coverings in public and social distancing.
“Tourism is the lifeblood of our local economy, and with the help of international experts and a dedicated task force, we have developed protocols that allow us to safely reopen our borders,” Jamaica’s Director of Tourism Donovan White said in a statement.
“We are confident that as we restart our economy, Jamaicans will work together to ensure a safe, secure and seamless experience for our tourism workers, their families, and visitors, while preserving the authentic experiences travelers seek when they visit our shores.”
Jamaica welcomes over 4.3 million visitors each year, with tourism accounting for 34% of its GDP.
The Maldives closed its national borders and canceled all flights shortly after recording its first two coronavirus cases in March.
However, around 30 resorts here have stayed open, with tourists opting to self-isolate in the famous honeymoon destination rather than return home.
The island nation, which is made up of over 1,000 islands, has recorded around 1,457 confirmed cases and five deaths from Covid-19 so far.
While it was previously thought the destination would reopen at the end of the year, officials have brought this forward to July.
A spokesperson for the tourism board has confirmed the Maldives will be open to tourists of all nationalities from July.
While a previous draft proposal indicated travelers would need to present a medical certificate confirming proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the new plans will see visitors allowed to enter the country without prior testing or a mandatory quarantine period.
There are also no new visa requirements or additional fees.
“We are planning to reopen our borders for visitors in July, 2020,” reads an official statement issued by the Ministry of Tourism on May 30.
“We also want to assure our guests that they will not be charged any additional fees to enter the Maldives.”
The government is also considering issuing a “Safe Tourism License” for tourist facilities that comply with government legislation and certain safety requirements, such as having a certified medic readily available and holding an “adequate stock” of PPE equipment.
But the destination’s tourism board has confirmed that visitors will not have to commit to spending a minimum of 14 days in the country, as was previously suggested, nor will they need to have a confirmed booking with a tourist facility with a “Safe Tourism License.”
The Maldives received more than 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and the destination had expected numbers to rise to two million in 2020.
Shortly after Malta registered its first Covid-19 case in March, a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine was put in place for all tourists entering the small Mediterranean country.
Outbound flights to France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland were then suspended, before all flight departures and arrivals were banned on March 20.
Prime Minister Robert Abela recently confirmed Malta will be reopening its borders to visitors from at least 17 countries on July 1.
Travelers from Germany, Austria, Cyprus, Switzerland, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Israel, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic will all be permitted to enter without going into self-isolation for two weeks.
The destinations chosen are those apparently deemed “safe” by the Malta Tourism Authority with regards to Covid-19 transmission.
However, restrictions on all other flight destinations will be lifted from July 15, according to officials.
Mexico is aiming to welcome visitors back within weeks.
While the nation remains in lockdown, with hotels and restaurants yet to recommence business, officials are planning to reopen the country bit by bit in order to get things back on track.
“The plan for the country is to open in stages and by regions,” WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara told CNN Travel recently.
“The target is domestic travelers first, followed by travelers from the US and Canada and then the rest of the world.
However, the border between the US and Mexico border will remain closed to “nonessential” travel until July 21, according to a statement from the US Department of Homeland Security on June 16.
The restrictions were first announced in mid-March.
While most international flights in and out of Mexico’s key airports are currently suspended or significantly reduced, Delta Air Lines will be increasing and/or resuming various services from the US to Cancun, Mexico City Los Cabos and Puerta Vallarta in the coming weeks.
Quintana Roo, a state on the Caribbean side of Mexico that’s home to the likes of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, hopes to reopen in mid-June, according to Marisol Vanegas, the state’s tourism secretary.
“We want to revive tourism and expect to start opening sights and hotels sometime between June 10 and 15 but don’t know which ones yet,” she says.
“It depends on what the federal government allows us to do.”
Meanwhile, Los Cabos will kick off a five-phase plan to revive tourism in June.
Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, says he hopes to be able to accept both international and domestic travelers by August and September.
However, beach destination Riviera Nayarit, situated north of Puerta Vallarta, currently has no immediate plans to bring back tourists, according to Richard Zarkin, the public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Portugal is keen to revive its struggling tourism industry, with Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva recently declaring “tourists are welcome.”
Incoming flights from outside the EU are now slowly starting up again, with TAP Air Portugal, Portugal’s national airline, resuming its nonstop flight between Lisbon and Newark airport earlier this month.
Travelers from EU nations, apart from Italy and Spain, are now permitted to enter the country without going into quarantine.
However, temperature checks will be taken on arrival and visitors will need to comply with local social distancing measures.
The land border between Portugal and Spain, which has been closed to tourists since March, is unlikely to reopen until at least July 1.
“We are gradually going to start looking at easing border controls,” Internal Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita said earlier this month.
In May, officials began putting measures in place to ensure foreign travelers would feel confident to return to Portugal.
Rita Marques, the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism, has launched a “don’t cancel, postpone” scheme, allowing tourists to reschedule any pre-arranged holidays to Portugal until the close of 2021.
This is valid for all bookings made through accredited travel agencies, along with hotels or Airbnbs, for trips scheduled between March 13 and September 30, 2020.
In addition, national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal has created a free hygiene-certification stamp to distinguish “Clean & Safe” tourism enterprises to increase visitors’ confidence.
Businesses will have to comply with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of Covid-19 to receive the stamp, which is valid for one year.
According to Santos Silva, Portugal’s airports will soon be introducing health checks for arrivals, but visitors will not be subject to a mandatory quarantine
Spain’s lockdown was one of the toughest in Europe, but restrictions have gently been lifted.
Beaches reopened in June while hotels in some parts of the country have also been permitted to resume business.
Now the European destination, which welcomed a record 84 million visitors in 2019, has moved forward its reopening date, granting EU travelers permission to enter without having to quarantine for two weeks from June 21.
While there’s been little mention of opening borders to travelers beyond the EU, it’s thought Spain is hoping to follow the lead of destinations such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic by establishing safe corridors, or a “travel bubble,” with nearby destinations that have managed to keep the outbreak under control.
“We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person,” Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto recently told local newspaper El Pais.
“The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis.”
As part of the European Union, Spain will also be open to the 15 countries the EU is lifting its external border to.
At present, it’s mandatory for anyone six and older to wear face masks while in public, both indoors and outdoors, “where it is not possible to maintain [an interpersonal] distance.”
St. Lucia is one of several Caribbean islands trying for a tourism comeback.
The tropical destination, which closed its orders to foreign travelers on March 23, began its phased reopening on June 4, when it lifted its borders to visitors from the United States.
Those traveling to the country must present “certified proof” of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of boarding their flight.
Visitors will also be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities and must wear face masks and maintain social distancing during their visit.
Officials are also bringing in new safety measures for taxis to separate drivers and passengers.
“Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travelers and our citizens,” Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee said in a statement.
“The government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jump starts its economy.”
Local businesses have also been allowed to reopen, provided they have appropriate cleaning measures and social distancing measures in place.
Details of the second phase of the island’s reopening, which is to begin on August 1, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Thailand has long been among the top destinations for travelers, receiving close to 40 million foreign tourists last year.
However, visitors have been banned from entering the Southeast Asian country since March because of the pandemic.
While the number of cases here has been relatively low in comparison to other destinations — Thailand has reported more than 3,000 confirmed cases and over 50 deaths — officials aren’t taking any chances when it comes to reopening the country.
“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think the earliest we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year,” Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told CNN Travel.
The governor went on to stress there will be limitations on who can visit the country and what regions they can go to once restrictions are relaxed.
“We are not going to open all at once,” he added. “We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet.
“We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved.”
This effectively means Thailand is unlikely to open its borders to travelers from destinations that don’t appear to have the coronavirus situation under control.
Those that are given permission to enter may be offered “long-stay packages” in isolated areas “where health monitoring can be easily controlled,” such as the remote islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui.
On July 1, a ban on international flights was lifted by The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) provided certain conditions are met.
Business travelers and those seeking medical treatment in Thailand are among those now permitted to enter the country.
The lack of foreign tourists means that visitor numbers will drop to 14 to 16 million this year, according to TAT.
But like many other global destinations, Thailand has been focusing on domestic tourism.
In fact, some resorts and hotels have already been given the go ahead to reopen — Hua Hin, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok, being one of them.
Shopping malls, museums, markets and some tourist attractions have also been reopening their doors, with Bangkok’s Grand Palace resuming business on June 4.
Turkey made over $34.5 billion from tourism in 2019, and the transcontinental country was eager to get back in business.
Like many other countries, the popular destination opted to restart domestic tourism before beginning to welcome foreign visitors.
International flights routes to and from Turkey have been gradually restarting throughout June, with the UK, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Hong Kong and Switzerland among the 40 nations Turkey is now receiving travelers from.
While tourists are not required to undergo Covid-19 tests before their trip, all visitors will receive a medical evaluation, including temperature checks, on arrival.
“When foreign visitors come, they will be health-checked, and body temperatures will be measured. If there is a suspicion, tourists will be taken for a PCR test.
“These measurements will start in Antalya, Bodrum, Dalaman, Izmir, Istanbul airports, the country’s provinces with the most tourist attraction,” Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism for Turkey, said earlier this month.
The country has also set out new guidelines for its hotels and resort facilities, such as temperature checks at entrances and at least 12 hours of room ventilation after checkout. Guests will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing.
“The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists,” Ersoy previously said while revealing plans to open around half of Turkey’s hotels this year.
Meanwhile, restrictions on intercity travel have been lifted, while restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities are permitted to reopen from June 1, along with beaches and museums.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest markets, reopened for the first time in two months on June 1.
United Arab Emirates
When the UAE, which is made up of seven emirates, closed its borders in March, the stringent restrictions included withdrawing tourist visas and banning all outgoing flights.
A nationwide night time curfew, officially called “the national sanitization program,” was also put in place, while the emirate of Dubai issued a 24-hour lockdown, which meant its residents had to apply for a police permit to leave their homes.
Now the Emirati authorities are gradually scaling down these restrictions.
In the past few weeks, hotels have started to reopen for domestic tourists at a reduced capacity and under strict guidelines.
In Dubai, guests are required to wear masks at all times and can only check in to rooms 24 hours after the previous guest has checked out.
Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, masks are also compulsory for guests and all returning employees be required to undergo Covid-19 screenings.
A number of shopping malls and restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have been allowed to open their doors again, provided they follow strict sanitation and social-distancing rules, while Dubai’s public parks and hotel beaches are permitted to open for groups of up to five people.
In April, Dubai opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing center, located at the Al Nasr Club, which supplies tests for no charge.
Although flights remain suspended, the Emirates’ main airports are being reopened for connecting flights, while Emirates-based airlines Etihad, Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia say they will recommence flight schedules in the coming weeks.
“We welcome the UAE authorities’ decision to re-open UAE airports for all connecting travelers. Emirates and Flydubai will shortly announce the resumption of passenger flights to more cities with connections to, and through, Dubai,” Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, tweeted on June 3.
“The decision includes Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Sharjah International Port, and covers Etihad Airways, Emirates, flydubai, and Air Arabia.”
It was recently announced that Dubai will begin welcoming international tourists from July 7, provided they provide proof they’ve recently tested negative for Covid-19 or agree to be tested on arrival.
“The thing about this current scenario is it’s a global question: many airports internationally remain closed and it’s really about the bilateral discussions that are under way to have a coordinated approach to the reopening,” Helal Al Marri, the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said during an interview with Bloomberg TV.
“We’re quite concerned about the timeline, that’s the main risk: is it going to be July when things open up? Is it going to be September?
“We just need to make sure we’re ready if things come earlier than expected.”
When other destinations were relaxing travel restrictions and bringing in measures to lure travelers back, the UK opted to enact stricter regulations.
However, the government has confirmed that, from July 10, visitors from at least 59 destinations, including France, Italy and Spain, will be able to visit England without going into quarantine, while English residents can travel to the majority of these places without self-isolating.
The “travel corridors” will come as a welcome move for those frustrated by the UK’s mandatory two-week quarantine, which came into effect on June 8.
Paul Charles, a member of Quash Quarantine, a campaign group lobbying the government to drop the quarantine, previously described the guidelines as “unworkable and unenforceable.”
“A lot of jobs have gone in the last few weeks as people haven’t been able to book holidays because they’ve been fearful of quarantine,” Charles told CNN Travel last week.
“So, quarantine itself has acted as a block to future bookings.
“As soon as the UK government signals officially that corridors will happen, it will make a significant difference to bookings.
Portugal was absent from the UK’s travel corridor, or “air bridge” list, although the land border between the country and Spain reopened on July 1.
“Portugal may still be included,” added Charles.
“As long as there’s an effective test and trace systems in these countries and people stick to social distancing measures where appropriate and travel responsibly, it makes sense to open as many corridors as possible with countries with lower R rates.”
However, the UK government has stressed that the list will be kept under review.
“We will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review,” reads a government statement.
“If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements.
But it seems not all of the countries included on the travel corridor list have agreed to drop their quarantine requirements, as was previously indicated, New Zealand being one of them.