It is no secret that tourism has been one of the hardest-hit industries since the world plunged into an eerily apocalyptic scene of coronavirus outbreaks and enforced social distancing.
The subsequent restrictions on movement and universal travel bans seemed to erect an impenetrable roadblock, abruptly halting the 2020 wanderlust-busting and adventure-seeking itineraries of world travellers.
While many of these limitations are still in effect, slowly but surely, select countries have begun opening their borders for leisure travel. Ideally timed with the northern hemisphere’s summer holiday season, the following six perennially popular tourism hotspots have, to varying degrees, either already opened to tourists or will be doing so soon.
Because it is likely to be a few years before international travel rebounds to pre-pandemic levels, 2020 may therefore be a great time to enjoy a less-crowded adventure in one these epic spots.
Europe began relaxing travel restrictions from June 15. The European Commission’s vice-president stated the process of opening borders will unfold in a “gradual and partial” fashion. At first, most countries have started to allow fellow European travellers, with the aim of opening to non-Europeans from July 1. Not all countries will open their borders at the same time and those that do may have certain restrictions, like bans or forced 14-day quarantines for those arriving from higher-risk regions. It’s therefore crucial to check with local authorities before travelling.
Iceland opted to open its borders for all European travellers from June 15, allowing passengers to choose either to be tested on arrival or enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Iceland intends to start welcoming non-Europeans from July, with a proposed testing-on-arrival scheme for those coming to the Nordic island nation from outside the Schengen area.
Ahead of its Continental siblings, borders were opened to virtually all international travellers from June 15, not just fellow Europeans. At this stage mandatory testing and potential quarantine are still on the cards for some travellers, particularly those from high-risk areas. From July however, much of the mandatory testing falls away with random tests taking over.
Greek authorities are so eager to welcome tourists back to the Mediterranean they even slashed VAT by almost half, hoping to entice tourists back with cheaper living and cheaper souvenirs awaiting them upon arrival.
Tourism stakeholders in the Mexican Caribbean have banded together to launch a campaign aimed at luring tourists back in 2020. Dubbed #VenAlCaribeMexicanoX2 (#Come2MexicanCaribbean), the campaign covers popular hotels and attractions throughout Mexican travel meccas such as Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel.
Part of the campaign incentivises travellers to return to this stunning stretch of Caribbean paradise with a variety of benefits. These include offers like getting two nights’ free hotel accommodation for every two nights booked, free stays for children, as well as discounts at local parks, spas and other tourist attractions.
Many African nations have suggested that their borders could remain closed for some time, with some countries possibly opening again for international travel in 2021 only. One exception to this is Tanzania which already began opening borders in May, encouraging foreign travellers to visit the East African nation.
Considering Tanzania is one of the most established tourism markets on the continent, its iconic attractions sound like just the thing to quench those corona-induced travel cravings; consider the magic of an authentic safari through the epic Serengeti or an equally appealing adventure around the African Great Lakes.
With most of the Asian nations still imposing varying degrees of travel bans, a glittering string of islands in the Indian Ocean may be the first Asian nation to welcome all tourists back fully.
In May, Maldivian authorities declared that once it opens to foreigners, travellers to the idyllic archipelago would be required to adhere to a host of new regulations set to mitigate the chance of further outbreaks. These included mandatory extra fees, testing and a 14-day quarantine period. Since then however, the islands have scrapped those rules and from July (precise date yet to be confirmed) all visitors will be welcomed without visa requirements or the need for a minimum 14-day stay or mandatory testing.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.