Geneva - The International Air Transport Association (IATA) presented new analysis showing that the airline industry cannot slash costs sufficiently to neutralize severe cash burn to avoid bankruptcies and preserve jobs in 2021. IATA reiterated its call for government relief measures to sustain airlines financially and avoid massive employment terminations. IATA also called for pre-flight COVID-19 testing to open borders and enable travel without quarantine.
Total industry revenues in 2021 are expected to be down 46% compared to the 2019 figure of $838 billion. The previous analysis was for 2021 revenues to be down around 29% compared to 2019. This was based on expectations for a demand recovery commencing in the fourth quarter of 2020. Recovery has been delayed however, owing to new COVID-19 outbreaks, and government mandated travel restrictions including border closings and quarantine measures. IATA expects full year 2020 traffic to be down 66% compared to 2019, with December demand down 68%.
“The fourth quarter of 2020 will be extremely difficult and there is little indication the first half of 2021 will be significantly better, so long as borders remain closed and/or arrival quarantines remain in place. Without additional government financial relief, the median airline has just 8.5 months of cash remaining at current burn rates. And we can’t cut costs fast enough to catch up with shrunken revenues,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
Although airlines have taken drastic steps to reduce costs, around 50% of airlines’ costs are fixed or semi-fixed, at least in the short-term. The result is that costs have not fallen as fast as revenues. For example, the year-on-year decline in operating costs for the second quarter was 48% compared with a 73% decline in operating revenues, based on a sample of 76 airlines.
Furthermore, as airlines have reduced capacity (available seat kilometers, or ASKs) in response to the collapse in travel demand, unit costs (cost per ASK, or CASK) have risen, since there are fewer seat kilometers to ‘spread’ costs over. Preliminary results for the third quarter show that unit costs rose around 40% compared to the year-ago period.
Looking forward to 2021, IATA estimates that to achieve a breakeven operating result and neutralize cash burn, unit costs will need to fall by 30% compared to average CASK for 2020. Such a decline is without precedent.
Factors contributing to this analysis include:
With international demand down nearly 90%, airlines have parked thousands of mostly long-haul aircraft and shifted their operations to short haul flying where possible. However, because the average distance flown has fallen sharply, more aircraft are required to operate the network. Thus, flown capacity (ASKs) is down 62% compared to January 2019, but the in-service fleet is down just 21%.
Around 60% of the world aircraft fleet is leased. While airlines have received some reductions from lessors, aircraft rental costs have dropped less than 10% over the past year.
It is critical that airports and air navigation service providers avoid cost increases to fill gaps in budgets that are dependent on pre-crisis traffic levels. Infrastructure costs have fallen sharply because of fewer flights and passengers. Infrastructure providers could cut costs, defer capital expenditures, borrow on capital markets to cover losses or seek government financial relief.
Fuel is the only bright spot with prices down 42% on 2019. Unfortunately, they are expected to rise next year as increased economic activity raises energy demand.
While IATA is not advocating specific workforce reductions, maintaining last year’s level of labor productivity (ASKs/employee), would require employment to be cut 40%. Further jobs losses or pay cuts would be required to bring unit labour costs down to the lowest point of recent years, a reduction of 52% from 2020 Q3 levels.
Even if that unprecedented reduction in labor costs were to be achieved, total costs will still be higher than revenues in 2021, and airlines will continue to burn through cash.
“There is little good news on the cost front in 2021. Even if we maximize our cost cutting, we still won’t have a financially sustainable industry in 2021,” said de Juniac.
“The handwriting is on the wall. For each day that the crisis continues, the potential for job losses and economic devastation grows. Unless governments act fast, some 1.3 million airline jobs are at risk. And that would have a domino effect putting 3.5 million additional jobs in the aviation sector in jeopardy along with a total of 46 million people in the broader economy whose jobs are supported by aviation. Moreover, the loss of aviation connectivity will have a dramatic impact on global GDP, threatening $1.8 trillion in economic activity. Governments must take firm action to avert this impending economic and labor catastrophe. They must step forward with additional financial relief measures. And they must use systematic COVID-19 testing to safely re-open borders without quarantine,” said de Juniac.
The Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) recently published its Corporate Plan for 2021 entitled Tourism Recovery Marketing Plan.
The plan is divided into five sections: -
The ATA then offers three scenarios for stopover traffic for calendar year 2021.
The ATA indicates that its recovery goals for 2021 are:
Consequently, the ATA states that the successful implementation of its 2021 marketing plan is contingent upon additional funds being provided to the ATA for marketing purposes and further states that with the additional funding, the North American market is projected to recover by 60% when compared to 2019 visitor arrivals. However, without the funding, the recovery would only reach a recovery of 51% of the total achieved by North America in 2019.
Equally, in the event additional funding is not made available for 2021, the budgets for the Latin American and the European markets will be further reduced to a bare minimum, so as to safeguard funding for North America, and for airlift endeavors.
The full plan is available for download here
Skift October 26, 2020
While the pandemic dealt a huge blow to global tourism, perhaps no other sector in the industry has faced as much uncertainty and challenge as the cruise industry — keeping in limbo its primary and most profitable market, the Caribbean.
Seven months into the pandemic, the world’s three largest cruise lines — Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Lines — have yet to sail. In a third extension of the No Sail Order, which applies to ships carrying over 250 passengers and cruising in American waters, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control cited “recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas,” as well as in Alaska on smaller 60-passenger ships, as evidence that this type of travel “continues to transmit and amplify” the spread of Covid in spite of cruise ships’ extensive increased health protocols and reduced capacities.
Where does this leave the Caribbean region, and how are island destinations repositioning their industries for a more resilient future without such an economic dependence on mass cruise tourism?
Months of no cruise tourism have allowed the islands “to detox,” said May Ling Chun, director of tourism for St. Maarten, one of the Caribbean’s top grossing cruise destinations. “We’ve been going and going and going, and all of a sudden, your destination looks greener and it looks better. And how can we do things that did work, limiting things that weren’t so effective and make sure we open up with all those in place? What are the opportunities we have?”
The news for cruise lines in the region is bleak. Carnival announced it was cancelling all cruise activity for the rest of 2020, except for cruises out of Port Miami and Port Canaveral, which are suspended through November for now. Royal Caribbean also suspended its cruises through November 2020. Meanwhile, an Americas Cruise Task Force — co-chaired by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley and Royal Caribbean, and made up of 40 Caribbean destinations – is working towards establishing cruising bubbles within the wider Caribbean.
“The return will indeed be gradual and slow as cruise fleets are smaller since shedding ships in recent weeks,” Brian Major, managing editor for digital publications and the Caribbean at Travel Pulse, and a cruise tourism expert, told Skift. “Also operators have indicated only a fraction of the dozens of itineraries previously available will operate initially.”
The challenges facing the three major cruise lines are gargantuan: sailing safely again to the Caribbean — where governments have effectively controlled the spread and where resources are limited to handle tourist outbreaks – adjusting to scaled down operations for an undetermined period in spite of a business model that thrives on increased passenger sizes and ship volume, and handling shareholder litigations that have surfaced, in the case of Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
A DATED MEASURE OF SUCCESS
More than 30 million cruisers flocked to the Caribbean’s ports through one of the three aforementioned cruise companies, bringing 22 destinations an overall gross domestic product contribution of $59 billion, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) 2019 statistical report. Of those, 14 Caribbean islands reported cruise tourism growth ranging from 11 percent in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to 70 percent in Dominica and 186.8 percent in the British Virgin Islands.
“For us, yes, overnight tourism provides more in terms of taxes, but cruise tourism is more impactful for socio economic development — it’s the artisans, the tour guides,” Karen Bevans, director of tourism for Belize, told Skift. It’s a sentiment shared among tourism leaders in the region, including The Bahamas, the region’s top cruise destination after Mexico, receiving up to 5.4 million cruisers in 2019. “Seeing as more than 70 percent of the government’s tax revenue comes from the millions of visitors who visit our shores each year, having the cruise lines return to The Bahamas would benefit local businesses, excursion and tour operators,” Joy Jibrilu, director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, told Skift. “This is particularly true of Nassau and Freeport, our major population centers, that would feel the greater benefit.”
When cruises resume, The Bahamas is likely to be a top choice for its proximity to Miami. To boot, pre-Covid, a handful of destinations – Antigua, St. Kitts, Belize – had invested and were looking into investing in major infrastructure upgrades in light of booming cruise arrivals and bright 2020 projections.
But experts have long remained skeptical on the contribution of cruise visitors and the true benefit of mass cruise tourism for the local economy, while pointing out its high impact on the environment.
“Only between 3.4 and 13.5 percent of tourism expenditure is from the cruise sector. In the longer term, our vision needs to be focused strongly on value addition,” Michael Hendrickson, economic affairs officer at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, shared on a timely CTO panel this month on diversifying Caribbean tourism. “For too long we’ve been focused on maximizing the numbers of tourists to the region without doing the analysis in terms of what’s the average spending of those visitors.”
The pandemic crisis has shown, once again, that for the Caribbean – the most tourism dependent region in the world – reliance on growth numbers as a measure of success is risky, and at best, inaccurate, particularly for the cruise sector.
“We’ve got to come up with new ways to measure success that put communities at the heart of this,” Seleni Matus, director of tourism studies at George Washington University, told Skift, while cautioning against the lack of diversification that continues to plague the Caribbean. “This pandemic really exposed how ill prepared and how low resilience is in the region. There is no plan for diversification. Economic development will need to be looked at more broadly; by force, [destinations] will have to.”
RESHAPING TOURISM STRATEGIES
A primary aim of most Caribbean destinations remains to work with cruise lines to establish the safe return of ships, albeit in reduced numbers. “Our focus for moving forward is to protect the health and safety of all residents and visitors in The Bahamas […] whether they arrive by air or by sea,” Jibrilu said. Jamaica shared a similar goal. “Jamaica [is] focused on developing safe and seamless experiences for travelers,” Donovan White, director of tourism for Jamaica, told Skift.
“The ministry of tourism and the ministry of health and wellness worked together to develop the concept of the resilient corridors, which encompasses the majority of our tourism regions. These corridors were an industry first, allowing us to manage exposure between international visitors and our tourism workers and residents. Our top priority was — and still is — instilling traveler confidence.”
Beyond the safety aspect, some destinations are eyeing ways to attract higher value revenue streams – such as creating increased economic benefits from a smaller kind of cruise tourism, focusing on overnight visitors, and entering new markets.
“What we’ve seen is an opportunity to expand on our home porting because it’s also a different target market,” said St. Maarten’s Chun. “The home porting are more the exclusive cruises — Star Clipper, Seaborne, Windstar — so they’re smaller. [W]e see the benefit of it, because they do come a few days before or after, in order for them to get a taste of the island and contribute to the economy before, on that Saturday morning, they hop on their ship to go around the Caribbean.”
Experts agree that smaller ships bringing greater value and maximizing cruise benefits should be a focus for the Caribbean. “The niche cruising that has always been there and smaller vessels, they’ve looked to offer different types of experiences than mainstream large vessels – there is this ingrained educational aspect of the experience, culture is important,” George Washington University’s Matus said. “That segment of the cruise industry has an opportunity here. And I think many places would be very open to welcoming back smaller vessels that might give them the opportunity to test their readiness with outbreaks.” Aside from growing the niche cruises, however, destinations have a chance to reexamine their relationship structure with the cruise lines.
“I really think that the region is not optimizing the returns from the cruise sector,” Hendrickson shared with the CTO. “That is something we need to look at — to develop linkages with our agriculture, to do more on board provisioning, our handicrafts, and our creative talent – our musicians and artists on board those ships providing services and earning a decent income. There needs to be a whole reimagining of what the cruise sector means for the region.”
Jamaica was ahead of the learning curve as soon as the shutdown began. “[W]e used the downtime to actively work on increasing employment of Jamaicans onboard cruise vessels, which we will continue to pursue when the industry returns,” White told Skift. “We have already developed a successful winter homeport business out of the UK and Germany. We will continue to grow that business as a part of our overall tourism and cruise strategy.”
Belize has focused on the linkages across its industry to ensure safety standards are delivered throughout any sector . “It’s like a chain where one part cannot function without the others,” Bevans said.
In addition, highlighting Belize’s natural safety advantages — outdoor activities and low population density – will take priority in destination marketing efforts, while reaching out into new markets in Europe and South America were already on the agenda, as a result of pre-Covid capacity studies. “We contracted agencies in the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and one in Argentina,” Bevans said. “We are pushing other markets to spread out our inventory into low season months which will spread out capacity. Spread out the demand, getting into other markets that have high season for low peak – June to November – to help our sustainability.”
Experiential travelers, long elusive to the Caribbean, are now being targeted as well as high value consumers. “We can market now more towards the villa rentals, the people that like food, because we’re known for culinary, for both our French and Dutch sides,” Chun said. “We’ve been marketing the target groups that we know that want to travel right now, from the Millennials to those that still have their jobs and need to get away and are willing to get their tests and come to a safe place to vacation.”
Similarly, Caribbean destinations recognize they must rethink their attractions and craft innovative cultural tours for smaller groups of cruisers, including millennials and Generation Z travelers, who will be among the first to travel again in search of authentic, sustainable experiences. “It gives us an opportunity to explore what we’ve been ignoring – as a Minister for Tourism, I’m ecstatic about that particular prospect,” Grenada’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation said at the 2020 Seatrade Cruise Virtual’s Regional Panel on the Caribbean this month. “I’ve always been saying, our community tourism, our ecotourism, our mountains, our trails – there are a number of things that we can do within the region that avoid the mass gatherings.”
St. Maarten’s Chun told Skift that just as the ships have evolved and “become fancier” so too must Caribbean destinations innovate. “They have everything on there, but what they don’t have is the island experience. They don’t have the culture, they don’t have the visits to historical sites, they don’t have any of that on their ships. St. Maarten’s objective is to enhance tremendously our culture; we have a rich history and culture that we have not put out enough.” St. Kitts and Nevis recently expressed plans to focus on its overnight tourism, noting that the destination is “determined not to disturb the delicate balance between necessary development and over-commercialization.” Martinique’s New York office was not available, but the president of Martinique’s Tourism Committee, Karine Mousseau, shared in a recent interview that with the cruise season lost, the French territory plans to pump 2.7 million euros in marketing the destination to overnight markets through February, including to mainland French tourists for the upcoming season.
DMOS AT RISK
In a May 2020 joint CTO-GW research study and survey on the effects of Covid on destination management and marketing organizations in CTO member countries, nearly 99 percent of destinations said they foresee sustainability playing a central role in their recovery plans. But the study also revealed that 61 percent of the Caribbean’s DMOs — which play a critical role in the Caribbean tourism industry – have had to reduce their budgets, with 39 percent sharing that they foresee employment cuts in the future. “The plans [tourism offices] have had have largely focused on bringing back people quickly,” Matus told Skift, ”but to sustain tourism in the new normal will require them to think more broadly about the implications to the entire value chain and plan accordingly. How do you do this with a diminished budget is a huge question.”
A NEW REALITY: QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Hard questions face a region now forced to plan ahead while mitigating the absence of big ships. Whether all destinations are actively working towards this or are able to financially push new initiatives at this time remains to be determined.
What’s for certain is that the pandemic is a pivotal moment for the Caribbean — yet another one, that is, considering the 2017 twin hurricanes which revealed the region’s low resilience. But the magnitude of Covid-19 is such that Caribbean destinations will have no other choice but to embrace the new reality and make difficult decisions in the coming months. There’s just no going back to mass cruise tourism as we once knew it, where tens of thousands of tourists disembark in a single day in a single island destination — at least not for a long while.
For the Caribbean, which is well-positioned to bounce back post-Covid, that may turn out to be a silver lining as tourism leaders must now target higher value tourism — such as niche cruises, stay-over visitors — and create up market adventure and cultural experiences geared to the region’s changing, discerning millennial and Generation Z consumer base. All of this would bode really well for a post-Covid resilient and sustainable Caribbean tourism industry.
When the pandemic is over, travel groups should be forced to rethink their dependence on customer prepayments.
Bloomberg: October 21, 2020, 3:00 AM AST
When U.K. travel brand Thomas Cook relaunched as an online travel agent last month, it needed a way to convince customers that it’s become a more reliable custodian of their money since its 2019 bankruptcy and that they’ve nothing to fear from booking a holiday during a pandemic.
Its solution was to promise that most of the cash customers hand over long before they go on holiday will now be held in a ring-fenced trust account until they return. 1
For anyone who’s struggled this year to get a refund from an airline, cruise ship operator or travel agent, this will sound appealing. The model is bound to become much more common as regulators begin to understand the benefits. It’s about time.
When British tour operators renew their licenses to operate in the coming weeks, some may be asked to keep customer prepayments in a segregated account, the Telegraph newspaper reported recently. Currently, travel companies and airlines are often free to spend the prepayments on whatever they like, and long before the trip happens.
Because of the immediate need to ensure the travel industry remains solvent, a swift regulatory crackdown on that business model would be counterproductive right now. The bigger current worry is that travel groups barely have any new bookings. German airline Lufthansa AG plans to offer only up to 25% of last year’s flight capacity during the fourth quarter.
However, after the financial crisis U.K. banks were forced to separate their core retail banking services from riskier investment banking. One day, there needs to be a similar reckoning about how travel groups protect customer cash.
From the travel companies’ perspective getting customers to stump up money months before they travel is great — it’s like getting a big interest-free loan. Lufthansa, cruise operator Carnival Corp. and tour company TUI AG all held several billion dollars of customer cash, according to their most recent full financial results.
When Covid-19 shut down global travel, consumers realized they were getting a raw deal. Many endured a Kafkaesque battle with company bureaucracies to get their money back and they often had to make do with vouchers.
Some travel agents are better at protecting their customers’ cash, and they’re calling loudest for change. “It’s scandalous that the money innocently paid for travel arrangements sometime in the future, is not required to be set aside in trust and solely spent delivering the contract,” Trailfinders says. It’s branded the current system a “protection racket.”
In theory, customer prepayments are safe, even without ring-fencing. If you book a flight with a credit card it’s usually possible to get a refund if the travel company goes bust. But not everyone books this way and you’re just loading the risk onto the credit companies. That’s why the latter hold back customer money from travel companies they deem to be a financial worry.
Brits who book a flight-inclusive holiday with so-called ATOL protection can also get a refund from the Air Travel Trust Fund if their travel company collapses. However, the fund was drained of cash after Thomas Cook’s demise.
Setting up a trust account doesn’t guarantee that refunds would be processed quickly in the event of mass travel cancellations like those seen this year. But by preventing companies from spending the cash until customers have travelled, the money should at least be safe. 2
Travel groups are beginning to see the benefits of ring-fenced accounts, too. Saga Plc expects its decision to set up a trust account will give it a marketing advantage with its over-50s holiday clientele.
Segregating customer prepayments would, however, increase a travel company’s cash requirements, which most of them can ill afford right now. For example, UBS analyst Cristian Nedelcu estimates that as much as 250 million euros ($296 million) of Tui’s cash could become “restricted” if regulators toughened up on ring-fencing. Tui had almost 6 billion euros of net debt, including lease liabilities, at the end of June and has twice had to turn to the German government for help this year.
Tui’s chief executive officer, Fritz Joussen, said in May that ring-fencing customer deposits “would more or less destroy the industry.” The cash-flow impact could ripple through the travel sector, depriving hotels and other struggling suppliers of money.
There’s little sign yet that the U.K. or other governments will force airlines to implement trust accounts, as some travel agents are demanding, and perhaps that’s no surprise given aviation’s precarious financial condition and the need to protect jobs.
“While I think there likely would be public support for ring-fencing customer funds with airlines, too, at least in the current situation there is a risk that governments may end up footing the bill for large legacy carriers, so you can see that it might not be their top priority,” says Daniel Roeska, an analyst at Bernstein Research.
Once there’s a vaccine and we’re all flying again, though, we shouldn’t forget the cavalier regard some airlines had for customer money. Better protecting that cash is the least the companies could do.
Conversations with governments about the resumption of travel are positive but progress cannot be delayed until a vaccine is widely available, according to the chief executive of the World Travel & Tourism Council.
Speaking at ABTA’s virtual Travel Convention, Gloria Guevara said action needed to be taken by the winter, adding that the “timeline was crucial” and saying: “We can’t afford to not travel until a vaccine becomes available.”
Guevara outlined the WTTC’s 100 million Job Recovery Plan, which she said had been presented to governments on October 7 and been “welcomed”.
She said it contained 12 commitments from the private sector around ensuring everyone travels with Covid insurance cover and that flexible booking conditions are offered in all cases to allow people to change plans without incurring fees.
But she said: “The private sector can’t recover 100 million jobs alone. For international travel to resume we need testing before departure so that only people with a negative test board the plane.”
Guevara added: “This needs to be low cost, and very efficient so results are returned within 30 or even 20 minutes, so that you know when you board the plane that the people with you don’t have Covid.”
She also called for the removal of blanket quarantines.
“They are not helping and they are impacting the economy,” she said. “Quarantines should only be in place for people who test positive.”
Guevara insisted dialogue with governments was progressing well, adding: “We are very engaged with governments. We have to start this recovery path so we can move forward.”
Guevara said the world must learn from previous crises, citing 9/11 which had had a long, u-shape recovery because there was limited collaboration between different governments.
She added: “It was very painful to have so many different protocols around the world.”
She said other crises had proved that “it is possible to have a faster, v-shape recovery if you act in a coordinated way” in terms of re-opening borders and establishing air corridors.
Guevara said 120 countries or destinations had now received the WTTC’s Safe Travels Stamp and urged agents to look for it when customers ask where would be best for them to travel to.
“It’s a recognition that these destinations have the highest protocols in place so if consumers are asking you, as the experts, where they should go and where they should stay, you need to look for the ones that have the stamp,” she said.
World Economic Forum - 25 Sep 2020
Kanika Soni: Chief Commercial Officer, TripAdvisor
Understanding how travel is changing
At TripAdvisor, the speed of recovery is something we have been tracking very closely through our own traffic and search data. This data provides a unique insight into travel planning trends around the globe.
In Europe and parts of Southeast Asia, we’ve seen domestic travel demand improve significantly this summer. At the time of writing, the number of unique domestic users clicking to book a hotel each week has even started to exceed 2019 demand in over twenty countries. Throughout the summer, restaurant traffic in most major European markets trended upwards, too.
In August, near-term travel planning — a good indicator of increasing consumer confidence — skyrocketed in most major markets including the US.
While these overarching demand trends are certainly encouraging, we also know that the road to recovery is likely to be bumpy. There will be further peaks and troughs to come as infection rates rise and fall. In that respect, overall tourism volumes only provide part of the picture when it comes to understanding how consumer travel behaviours have changed, and whether those new habits are merely temporary or will endure beyond the pandemic.
A report released recently by the Pacific Asia Travel Association, which features research from a host of organizations including the World Economic Forum and TripAdvisor, sheds light on how consumer behaviors in the region have shifted, and what operators need to do in response.
The report shows that health and safety precautions are now a more significant factor in where consumers choose to stay than price, and that heavily influences the type of destinations they are willing to travel to. 72% of travelers polled in the region said they are taking into account a destination’s culture of social responsibility towards preventing the spread of the virus before deciding whether to go, and 73% are looking for the opportunity to avoid crowded places when traveling.
Traffic and search trends on TripAdvisor bear this out. Nature destinations, such as national parks and beaches, have disproportionately benefited from returning demand. Campgrounds and farmhouses have also grown in popularity, and user searches for properties with outdoor activities are also on the rise.
In other words, consumers feel most confident about traveling to places where contact with other people can either be minimized or controlled in a way that lowers the risk of infection.
For everyone from destination managers and government officials to individual hospitality business owners, the message is clear: prioritizing health and safety practices isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the key to giving tourists the confidence to return. It is important, then, to view new health and safety practices in the proper context. They are not simply a cost to be incurred, but rather a value proposition that should be front and center in how destinations and businesses market themselves to visitors.
Simple, highly visible changes can make a big impression on customers, such as restaurants switching from printed menus to contactless menus, or a hotel sharing a checklist of its cleanliness protocols with would-be guests in advance of their stay. On TripAdvisor, click-through rates to properties that have promoted their health and safety practices in this way are, on average, 16% greater than properties that have not.
Of course, to achieve a full recovery, there are many factors that are outside the control of the tourism industry — government restrictions, rates of infection, the speed at which a viable vaccine is developed — but that should be no reason to undervalue the importance of embracing transparency and promoting good practice. Both will be essential to the success of destinations in growing tourism numbers back to pre-pandemic levels, and beyond that, to meeting future challenges facing the industry in the long term.
Understanding how travel could transform further
What COVID-19 has highlighted all too clearly is how important the tourism sector is to the global economy at large. It’s vital for redistributing wealth from developed economies to developing markets. Consumers are now being encouraged to see what a difference their spending can make to local businesses and communities in the destinations they visit.
Such shifts could foster even more positive change. If, as our research suggests, health and safety practices are more heavily weighted in customers’ decision-making, then there is an opportunity for us as an industry to channel consumer interest towards other practices that serve the greater good. The steps many businesses are taking now to inform and educate customers about the cleanliness protocols they have in place could be replicated to promote sustainable practices at the same time, such as how a business might be eliminating the use of plastics from its operation or taking special precautions to avoid any adverse impacts on local ecosystems.
Some countries are already seizing the opportunity to embed sustainable and responsible practices into how they market and promote their own destinations. New Zealand, for example, has created the Tiaki Promise, which invites travelers to the country to pledge behaviors that help “care for land, sea and nature” as well as “travel safely”. In doing so, they have made the act of traveling responsibly into something that enhances the authenticity of the travel experience for those visiting the country.
Local operators like Whale Watch Kaikoura have taken this initiative to heart, too. The company offers responsible whale-watching experiences to over 100,000 passengers a year, funnelling investment into the indigenous Māori community which owns and operates the tours. The success of the local economy and the protection of Kaikoura’s wildlife are inherently connected, and so the tours provide visitors with information about whale conservation and the careful steps the business takes to minimize its impact on the local sperm whale population.
The more consumers come to expect to see this type of information, the more other operators will feel compelled to adopt responsible practices that they too can promote. As an industry, we should embrace this. Our destinations and our communities will be more resilient to future challenges if we do.
Tourism businesses worldwide continue to do amazing work even in the face of this pandemic – providing employment and learning opportunities to local people, driving investment in underserved communities, helping to protect the local environment, and more. We have a chance to put these practices at the heart of the tourism industry we build back. We must not squander it.
19 Oct 2020
Paul Meyer: Chief Executive Officer, Commons Project
Countries have implemented a range of entry rules related to COVID testing and quarantine, with little consistency and rarely taking account of test results from other countries.
To more safely open borders, countries, airlines and people will need to trust test results, vaccination records and potentially other health data from across borders.
The risk of further outbreaks and the rising demands on testing and restrictions require an international framework to more safely resume travel and trade whilst we wait for vaccines.
With COVID-19 infections reaching 34 million people worldwide and more than 1 million global deaths to date, the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit featured a session discussing how international travel has to evolve to be safer, in order for public trust to be regained.
This infection rate and death toll have significantly impacted public health and healthcare, but other sectors and industries have also suffered from the direct and indirect economic slowdown due to a reduction in travel and trade. Attendees of the session said that if global travel and trade is to return to pre-pandemic levels, travellers will need a secure and verifiable way to document their health status as they travel and cross borders.
The economic impact due to the slowdown of travel and trade has been great, compared to before the outbreak of the virus. In 2019, travel and tourism represented 10% of global GDP and accounted for 1 in 10 jobs worldwide. But between January and August 2020, there was a 69% decrease in international passengers, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization. This has translated into airline losses of $350-$400 billion. The pandemic has also resulted in an unprecedented disruption to world trade, which bodies such as the World Trade Organization forecast to fall between 13% and 32% in 2020.
Do countries need to learn to trust health data across borders?
Nine months into the pandemic, the prospect of vaccines may offer a light at the end of the tunnel. But in order for travel and trade to resume – even with vaccines available – policymakers need access to a common framework to aid in their data-based decisions on the border entry requirements of their country.
In the absence of being able to trust health data created outside their borders, many countries insist on testing on arrival, or simply close their borders. In their haste to close borders, efforts have often been disparate and uncoordinated. As a result, there are a myriad of approaches to COVID regulations and restrictions and almost as many different quarantine measures as there are countries. Only a common ground for recovery and bringing health records across borders can restore trust again.
Rebuilding confidence in travellers
The issue of trust was especially clear in Europe during the summer peak, when many chanced flying to holiday destinations. As holidaymakers sunned themselves on the beach, travel restrictions tightened in reaction to the latest level of COVID infections, leaving many facing unexpected quarantine on returning home. The evolution of quarantine measures has become increasingly complex for travellers to follow, as individual states, sub-regions, cities and towns emerge as risk zones.
To avoid these situations, the world needs a unified digital infrastructure and health trust framework, where health data can be shared securely across borders, as well as with airlines and other stakeholders. Otherwise people will not dare to sit on a plane, and not because they worry about the flight, but because they don’t know what will happen before or after their flight. Will they have to present a negative COVID-19 test from a lab in their country? Will this lab be trustworthy in the eyes of the border control agents? Or will they have to take a test at the airport when they land?
This is why there is such an urgent need for solutions like CommonPass to make international travel safer, through trust in health data and transparency of entry requirements. The aim is to put a digital infrastructure and trust framework in place to accommodate vaccine records before vaccine distribution begins. Without a common shared platform for sharing health information, the confusing range of uncoordinated regulations and restrictions will continue, even if a vaccine or several vaccines become available.
First global trials for sharing health data across borders
Trials for this health trust framework will be piloted in October 2020, in collaboration with major airlines and airports, with governments taking an observer role. The trials are intended to demonstrate how the CommonPass framework is built to protect privacy, show how test results from a trusted lab or vaccination record flow into the framework and can be presented at the airport on arrival.
With a mutual acceptance of each other's tests, countries can confidently allow travellers and trade to resume. A solid infrastructure will get us moving again.
To achieve this goal amid the risk of further outbreaks, it’s also vital that testing is not just for the privileged, but for everyone. And everyone needs to be able to control their own health data and store it securely.
Ultimately, countries will always control their own borders. There will not likely be a policy accepted by everyone, but the future of travel should implement a digital trust framework that can accommodate different types of health information, so that countries can have the flexibility to implement nuanced rules that can evolve with the science and pandemic, rather than having to implement new processes and systems with every change.
The Points Guy / Clint Henderson
Editor’s note: This post was last updated on Oct. 20, 2020, with new information.
Coronavirus has us frozen in place for the most part and dreaming of when we can start booking travel again. In the meantime, we’ve been doing a lot of stories at The Points Guy about what those dream trips look like.
As countries slowly start reopening their borders to travelers after months of lockdowns due to COVID-19, TPG is here to guide you through the latest in the ever-changing rules and regulations.
And if you want to find out where U.S. travelers can go right now, follow this link for our complete guide to which countries are allowing U.S. travelers.
The United States remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. The U.S. has more cases than any country in the world.
All states are in various stages of their own reopening processes.
Our state-by-state guide to American re-openings is here.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still strongly advises against any nonessential travel within the United States. The CDC website advises, “It is possible that some state and local governments may put in place travel restrictions, stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders, mandated quarantines upon arrival, or even state border closures while you are traveling.”
Additionally, the U.S. has restrictions on visitors including a ban on tourists from Canada, Mexico, Europe and much of Asia.
The U.S. State Department lifted its “Level 4,” warning — the department’s highest warning — against any international travel, but it is still not recommended.
Canada eased some lockdown measures, but the border between the United States and Canada is closed through at least November 21.
We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until November 21st, 2020. Our decisions will continue to be based on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe. More info:https://t.co/EZ3pi3asJr
Canada is allowing most province-to-province travel, but Americans are not welcome except for those who have dual citizenship or are Canadian residents.
U.S. Congress members have sent a letter to both countries to push them to open the border immediately. Canadian specialists have said the border should remain closed until next year as the U.S. faces the continued spread of coronavirus.
Related: Canada keeping its border closed
Like many other nations, Canada requires all visitors to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival. It’s unclear when that might be lifted.
Mexico began a slow regional opening on June 29, and many coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
Mexico is one of the few countries that flung open its doors to Americans. At first, it was just beach destinations like Cancun, but now even Mexico City is reportedly ready to welcome back Americans.
Restaurants, gyms, barbershops, hotels and other facilities must operate at no more than 50% of capacity in the capital.
Related: Mexico reopening its beaches
All Mexican airports are open to Americans. Tourists are advised that enhanced screening and cleaning procedures are in effect. There are also health checks at all airports, but no testing requirements.
Related: Mexico’s Baja and Puerto Vallarta reopening
The U.S. and Mexico land border is closed to nonessential travel until at least Nov. 21. Reuters reports long long lines for the few lanes that are open at the border.
To continue to limit the spread of COVID, the US, Mexico, & Canada will extend the restrictions on non-essential travel through Nov 21. We are working closely with Mexico & Canada to identify safe criteria to ease the restrictions in the future & support our border communities.
Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the U.S., is officially reopened to all international travelers. You will need to bring a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
Upon arrival, travelers will be subject to health screenings, including possible additional COVID-19 testing. You could be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of symptoms.
Related: Everything you need to know about Puerto Rico reopening
Public beaches and water activities are allowed with appropriate social distancing.
If you’re thinking of bypassing hotel restrictions by booking an Airbnb, keep in mind that many of the same rules will apply.
Restaurants are currently open with reduced capacity. As is now the norm in the age of COVID-19, buffets will not reopen and restaurant staff will serve meals wearing gloves and masks.
Shopping malls will be open, and casinos, beaches and gyms began reopening October 2.
San Juan International Airport (SJU) is open.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands, which includes St. Thomas and St. Croix, was under a state of emergency until July 11, but it began welcoming back tourists as of June 1 with restrictions. Unfortunately due to a surge in cases, the island returned to a “stay at home” order as of August 13. Now the island has reopened to tourism as of September 19, but will require a negative coronavirus PCR test for all visitors taken within five days of arrival on the islands.
No quarantine is required for healthy visitors who have negative test results.
Anyone without a negative test result will be required to quarantine at their own expense and according to the government, “are responsible for all associated costs, including transportation, lodging, food, and medical care.”
Related: U.S. Virgin Islands reopening
Masks will be mandatory when going into businesses and attractions, beaches will also be open but social distancing is required. Large gatherings remain prohibited. Hotels, guesthouses, villas, timeshares and Airbnb accommodations are all accepting bookings. COVID-19 guidelines are in place for retail businesses and attractions; taxi vans, safari and limo services.
Related: A country-by-country guide to the Caribbean
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda reopened to tourists on June 4. However, travelers will have to adhere to social distancing guidelines, including face masks in public. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.
All snorkel and dive excursions and other activities must be booked via visitors’ resorts. Travelers cannot explore the islands freely.
The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly canceled an early June trip to Antigua. but eventually he was able to make the trip.
More: Here are the rules for visiting Antigua
American Airlines resumed service to the Caribbean with flights to Antigua.
You will not need to present a negative COVID-19 test before arrival, but having one can help you bypass some of the screening protocols on the ground.
Every incoming traveler will be tested for COVID-19. The test will take 15 minutes to complete, and results will be released within 48 hours, according to Antigua’s travel advisory website. Travelers will have to pay for the test, which costs $100 per person.
Aruba has reopened, with American visitors welcomed back on July 10. Visitors from Europe were allowed in Aruba as of July 1.
Related: Aruba reopening
Arrivals will face new screening measures including the possibility of COVID-19 tests along with temperature checks.
Americans from 23 states considered high-risk will need to upload proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of flying to Aruba or they won’t be allowed to board. Those from less risky states will also need to upload a test or have one taken at Oranjestad’s airport. Those who take a test on arrival will need to quarantine at their hotel for up to 24 hours while awaiting the results. The tests are paid for by the tourist. Testing requirements can be found here.
All guests must also purchase visitors’ insurance from the nation of Aruba to cover up to $75,000 in health insurance. For a week it will cost you about $100.
The country has also placed temporary capacity limits on some tourist spots, especially in popular destinations. Casinos are open with new safety measures in place.
Bahamas has hit several road bumps in its reopening. It first opened up, then shut down again, and now has again reopened its borders to international travelers. Unfortunately there are a few hurdles for visitors.
Americans are now allowed, but they must have a COVID-19 PCR test taken within five days of arrival, and quarantine for two weeks at their hotel, Airbnb, ship, or other lodging. They will also need a “Bahamas Health Visa” required prior to arrival and will need to upload negative test results into that online form.
Related: Bahamas reopening
All Bahamas hotels are being allowed to open by the middle of October, and they will also be able to allow visitors to use their beaches.
Barbados reopened to international travelers beginning on July 12. U.S. commercial flights resumed July 25 for JetBlue and August 5 for American Airlines.
Related: Barbados wants you to move there and work remotely
Barbados has instituted mandatory protocols that all inbound travelers have to follow:
COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory within 72 hours prior to departure for travelers from high-risk countries (one week for low-risk countries)
Online embarkation/disembarkation card (ED card) with personal health questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms
Test upon arrival without a documented negative COVID-19 PCR test result and mandatory quarantine at traveler’s expense until results are returned
Social distancing, temperature checks and wearing face masks
The local government clarifies that high-risk countries are defined as those that have seen more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission, which would include the United States. In addition, anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus will be placed in isolation where they will “receive care from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.”
Related: Barbados set to welcome back Americans
More updates on Barbados’ response to coronavirus and any updates to its protocols can be found on the government website.
Bermuda reopened its borders including to Americans back on July 1.
The island resumed international commercial air service for visitors as part of its fourth phase of economic reopening after what it calls its “successful management of COVID-19 to date.”
Related: Bermuda opening to Americans
In a news conference announcing the reopening, Bermuda’s Minister of Tourism & Transport Zane DeSilva said, “As we work to finalize the protocols and requirements for travel to Bermuda, rest assured, we will always place the safety of our island and its people above all else.”
Here are the requirements posted by the government of Bermuda:
Pre-departure — A traveler must:
Within 48 hours of departure, complete the Bermuda travel authorization process online which gathers important information for the island’s health and immigration officials; a $75 fee per traveler is required, which includes the cost of all COVID-19 testing in Bermuda. Each passenger must have a form completed regardless of age. NOTE: Children 9 and younger do not have to be tested at any point, and their Travel Authorization fee is $30. Travel authorization FAQ
Ideally within 72 hours, but no more than seven days before departure, visitors must take a PCR COVID-19 test and obtain a negative result. This applies to adults and children aged 10 and up. Children who are 9-years-old and younger are exempt and are subject to their adult travel companion’s quarantine. Children 10-17 must receive parental consent to be tested. If consent is denied, the young traveler must quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Test results must be entered as part of the online travel authorization process and be presented upon arrival in Bermuda. As of July 11, 2020, such visitors without a pre-departure test will not be able to obtain Travel Authorization and enter Bermuda.
Wear face masks when traveling to the departure airport
Wear face masks and practice physical distancing at the departure airport
Additionally, a traveler should:
Acquire health insurance covering illness and injury outside of your home jurisdiction, including those related to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis while in Bermuda. If this is not obtained, a visitor will be responsible for all health and accommodation costs should they require treatment and/or quarantine, including costs related to a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in Bermuda
Pack a thermometer
Related: Visiting Bermuda with kids
More information on coronavirus in Bermuda can be found here.
More reading: New resort and hotel options in Bermuda
Cayman Islands is set for a soft-reopening on October 1.
Only Americans who own homes in Cayman Islands, dual citizens, or those hoping to move to Cayman Islands under long-term work arrangements will be allowed in, and only 800 approvals will be offered during the early stages of reopening. They will also need to register with the Travel Time service before their trip.
All arriving passengers will need a negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test taken within 72 hours of departure.
Upon arrival in the country, travelers will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days at home or in hotels. Travelers will also be asked to wear electronic tracking devices and may be subject to random checks. Following quarantine, travelers will be tested for COVID-19, and if negative, they will be released and tracking devices will be taken off.
Related: Cayman Islands reopening
Cuba again welcomed international visitors back in July. The U.S. State Department has a “Do not travel” advisory in place for Cuba.
Politics limits Americans travel to Cuba more than COVID-19. Longstanding travel restrictions were recently tightened by the U.S. government, eliminating many of the reasons Americans were allowed to visit Cuba in recent years.
There are a number of additional restrictions for U.S. travelers visiting Cuba that are not related to the pandemic, and which remain active.
Dominica is open to travelers as of Aug. 3. All eligible travelers arriving in the country must follow the procedures below:
Submit a health questionnaire online at least 24 hours prior to arrival
Present notification of clearance to travel in the form of a doctor’s note or similar document
Submit a negative PCR test result recorded within 24-72 hours prior to arrival
As with many other countries accepting U.S. tourists, visitors must also adhere to stringent on-site policies around social distancing and safe hygiene, including:
Wearing face masks at all times during the arrival process, up to and including departure from the airport
Observing physical distancing guidelines
Following all instructions from local health care staff and officials
Undergoing a health assessment upon arrival, including a temperature check
Providing confirmation of the health questionnaire and negative PCR test results
Undergoing rapid COVID-19 test screening with a negative test result (children under five are exempt).
Any traveler with a high temperature, high risk alert from their questionnaire or positive rapid test will be given a PCR test, and be taken into mandatory quarantine at a government-approved facility or hotel at their expense until results are available. If the follow-up test result is positive, the traveler may be quarantined until released by an authorized health professional.
The Dominican Republic’s borders were closed by land, sea and air in March, but the island country announced in early June that it would reopen July 1, although only approximately 30% of the hotels opened at that time. Social distancing guidelines will still be enforced, but not much else by way of specifics have been announced.
Punta Cana International Airport restarted commercial operations on July 1.
There will be temperature checks on arrival, but as of October, it appears pre-testing will no longer be required, though there may be spot checks at local airports.
The United States Embassy in Santo Domingo issued a level 4 health warning not to travel to the Dominican Republic due to the impact of COVID-19. The office warned American citizens to reconsider coming to the country in consideration of the situation with the pandemic:
Related: Dominican Republic reopening July 1
Like its Caribbean neighbors, Grenada began reopening to foreign tourists on August 1 — with many health conditions attached. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy for Americans to visit.
Travel can be difficult here for “high-risk” tourists from places like America where coronavirus is still rapidly spreading.
Only chartered flights are allowed from these countries.
Anyone traveling to Grenada from a high-risk country will find a 14-day mandatory quarantine period awaiting upon arrival. Additionally, tourists from “Red Zones” will have to undergo quarantining at an approved state facility for the same period — subject to the discretion of local officials.
Additionally, requirements of low and middle-risk countries still apply. A negative PCR test result, dated at most seven days prior to entry, is needed — and rapid testing upon arrival will still take place. Tourists may have to stay 2-4 days at a government-approved accommodation while awaiting PCR results and be able to resume quarantine elsewhere (as long as they are not from the “Red Zones”).
Haiti has reopened its borders to regular international passenger traffic. It has also opened its land borders with the Dominican Republic.
According to the local U.S. embassy, travelers coming to Haiti are required to go through a 14-day self-quarantine. On their flight, they will also need to complete a health declaration form and submit it to immigration authorities upon arrival. They will need to keep this form for the purposes of self-quarantine and contact tracing as necessary.
Jamaica officially reopened for tourism beginning June 15, but anyone who is hoping to plan a vacation here will have to overcome major hurdles. Arriving travelers have to submit a pre-travel health authorization registration with a customs and immigration form, and the government will issue a travel approval document based on those details. Travelers may be denied permission to visit depending on their risk for COVID-19 transmission.
All incoming travelers should expect thermal temperature checks upon arrival, and anyone who shows COVID-19 symptoms or feels ill upon arrival will be quarantined. Even after all those procedures, travelers are expected to adhere to social distancing and face mask policies in public. Travelers are also expected to follow any policies made by tourist and hospitality establishments, which are most likely derived from the government’s 119-page guide for local hospitality procedures.
Related: Jamaica reopening with lots of rules
As of Aug. 18, a new requirement was added: All U.S. travelers must bring along negative results of a COVID-19 PCR test, dated within 10 days of the date of arrival.
Martinique is open for tourism, but from what we can tell only citizens of France are eligible. According to the U.S. consulate for the Eastern Caribbean, Americans are not welcome, but the policy will be reviewed every two weeks. According to the Caribbean Journal, Air France has resumed flights to Martinique.
All arrivals must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure for the island, and are subject to a 14-day quarantine.
St. Barthelemy (St. Barths) opened to tourists beginning June 22, but there are lots of caveats.
More: Visitors can come to St. Barths only if they can prove they’re not sick
If you want to visit the Caribbean vacation spot, you’ll need to prove that you have tested negative for COVID-19 72 hours or less before you arrive. Those unable to provide such documentation will be tested on arrival, and will need to isolate at their lodging until results become available.
Visitors who test positive for the virus will be moved into quarantine on the island.
Bruno Magras, president of the island’s territorial council, told the Caribbean Journal:
“Whether you are visiting an island friend or local resident, returning to spend time in your vacation home or coming back to spend some vacation time on the island, St Barth is pleased to welcome you back. Island beaches are open without restriction, restaurants and boutiques are operating as usual, houses of worship are open and holding services and nautical services as well as the other services to which you are accustomed are being provided as usual.”
Related: St Barths reopening on June 22
For those staying longer than seven days, a second COVID-19 test will be required.
You’ll need to plan carefully. There are no direct flights from the U.S. so make sure the country you are arriving from is allowing American tourists.
Saint Kitts & Nevis
Saint Kitts & Nevis is set to begin a phased reopening beginning Oct. 31, 2020. Americans will be allowed as part of Phase 2 as soon as Oct 31. Travelers from within the “Caribbean bubble” will be allowed in with the fewest restrictions. That includes those traveling from the following 8 CARICOM member states: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Lucia & St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
According to St. Kitts & Nevis tourism, Americans will need to take the following steps:
Complete the entry form on the national website (www.covid19.gov.kn) and submit a negative PCR test completed within 72-hours of travel from an accredited laboratory (List of accredited labs to be provided by the Ministry of Health at a later date).
Undergo a health screening at the airport which includes a temperature check and a health questionnaire.
Download the SKN COVID-19 contact tracing mobile app (to be used for the first 14 days of travel or less).
Days 1-7, they are free to move about the hotel property, interact with other guests and partake in hotel activities.
Days 7 -14, visitors will undergo a PCR-test (visitors’ cost) on day 7. If the traveler tests negative on day 7, they are allowed, through the hotel’s tour desk, to book select excursions and access select destination sites (list to be announced later).
Visitors staying 14 days or longer will need to undergo a PCR-test (visitors’ cost) on day 14, and if they test negative the traveler will be allowed to integrate into the St. Kitts and Nevis
One other note, Americans will need to stay at one of six approved hotels for international visitors. Good news? They include the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the Four Seasons Nevis and the St. Kitts Marriot Resort.
Related: Everything you need to know about entering St. Lucia
Saint Lucia is welcoming Americans. Flights to Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) have resumed.
Visitors will be required to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours of boarding their flights to UVF. Once they arrive, guests will undergo health checks and temperatures will be taken. Masks and social distancing will be required for the duration of the stay.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines began reopening July 1. Visitors from all countries are welcome, but everyone has to fill out the “VINCY” coronavirus questionnaire form and Americans face special requirements.
All Americans will need a negative COVID-19 PCR test within five days of arrival. All travelers are also being tested on arrival. St. Vincent and the Grenadines are now also requiring proof of a fully-paid reservation in an approved hotel for five nights, and a quarantine of five days at that hotel or other lodging.
More: What you need to know about the reopening of the St. Vincent & the Grenadines
French St Martin remains closed to U.S. travelers, but Dutch St Maarten is open and welcoming U.S. and other travelers arriving at Princess Juliana International Airport.
They are requiring several protocols to be followed for tourists, such as submitting the results of a COVID-19 RT-PCR test that is no older than 72 hours prior to the day of travel. There is also a health declaration form for all arriving passengers to submit in advance (confirmation must be shown at immigration).
U.S. tourists are not being allowed to cross the island border between Dutch Sint Maarten to French Saint Martin until further notice.
More: St. Maarten is delaying their reopening for Americans
There are several protocols that travelers are expected to follow, and it won’t be a vacation away from the social distancing that you may have hoped for initially. This graphic illustrates some of what you can expect, including face coverings, health screenings, and increased cleaning.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago issued a stay-at-home order in late March, and banned tourists. The country has gotten high marks for keeping COVID-19 cases to a minimum.
The two islands began easing restrictions on May 12, but so far that doesn’t include welcoming tourists.
Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said in May that the borders will remain closed until the government is confident the virus is contained.
The government also is giving hotels some $50 million to remodel and prepare for when tourists are welcomed back.
Caribbean Airlines has resumed some local flights, and released a video on their new cleaning procedures in the wake of the outbreak.
Turks and Caicos
Turks and Caicos, a group of 40 low-lying coral islands popular with tourists in the Caribbean, reopened for international visitors beginning July 22. The Providenciales Airport reopened that day.
This British Overseas Territory includes the island of Providenciales, also known as Provo.
More: What you have to know for Turks and Caicos reopening
Travelers to Turks and Caicos will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR test within five days of visiting the islands.
Related coverage: Why I love Turks and Caicos
Albania has resumed commercial flights, and the government lifted all restrictions on tourism on July 1.
There are no testing requirements for visitors, but temperature checks on arriving passengers at the airport are mandatory. If a passenger has COVID-19 symptoms and/or a fever they may be required to undergo a mandatory government quarantine.
Related: 5 reasons to visit Albania in 2020
Armenia has reopened its borders to Americans.
According to the U.S. Embassy Yerevan, “travelers who are permitted to enter Armenia are asked to complete health questionnaires and self-quarantine or self-monitor for 14 days.” Visitors can skip quarantine with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken with 72 hours of arrival.
Only Austrian citizens and EU citizens are allowed to come to Austria, and even visitors from some countries within the European Union are restricted including Spain and Portugal.
The Austrian government now requires a negative molecular-biological SARS-CoV2 test, which applies to third-party nationals who are allowed to enter Austria right now. The test must be written in German or English and dated within 72 hours of the travel departure date.
European Union citizens and residents are subject to a mandatory quarantine.
Third-country nationals (that means our U.S. travelers) will not be allowed by air from outside the Schengen area.
However, if you are a foreign national (U.S. traveler) and go to Austria for “essential” travel, you’ll need a negative PCR test no more than 72 hours old. In addition, you’ll also need to self-quarantine for ten days too, in addition to the negative PCR test.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan,U.S. citizens with legal residence status in Azerbaijan are allowed to enter. It doesn’t appear any other Americans are currently welcome. All arrivals must have a negative COVID-19 test and all arrivals are subject to a two-week self-quarantine.
Belarus is in the middle of a popular uprising against the man called the “last dictator in Europe,” so it may not be the best time to visit, but the country bordering Russia may be open to tourism. According to published reports, Americans are on a list of 70 countries that were allowed to enter as of August 15.
If you can find a flight, you’ll need to get a visa. A COVID-19 PCR test within 48 hours is “recommended,” but not required. You’ll also need to fill out a health questionnaire and submit to temperature/health checks on arrival.
Belgium is not allowing Americans according to the United States Embassy. Any travelers who are permitted entry (there are strict restrictions) must self-quarantine for 14 days. Right now, only fellow Europeans and citizens of the U.K. are allowed to visit.
The Bulgarian government ordered a new ban on all persons, regardless of their citizenship, through all border crossings, by air (including commercial and private aircraft), sea, rail and road transport, which was in effect July 1, to September 30, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria.
Those exempt from the ban are “nationals, permanent residents and their family members of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the Schengen Agreement States including San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.” Locals are allowed to return but must quarantine for 14 days.
Croatia has reopened for tourists from all countries.
Croatia amended its COVID-19 policies due to a slight spike in cases. Incoming travelers must now produce a negative COVID PCR test taken less than 48 hours before departure, or else observe a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival.
Related: Visiting Croatia in the age of coronavirus
Fair warning: The European Union has decided not to allow U.S. travelers into the E.U., but individual nations have decided to ignore that decision, and Croatia has done in regards to Americans. The Daily Beast reports, “… upon checking with the Croatian government directly, we can confirm that Americans can travel to Croatia for tourism… without quarantine.”
Cyprus is a small island nation off the coast of Turkey, and it is not yet open to Americans, but it is open to British citizens.
They will allow in Americans who’ve already quarantined in a third country that is allowing Americans like Turkey or Croatia first.
“U.S. citizen tourists will not be able to travel to the Republic of Cyprus if they have been in the United States, or any other country not classed as a Category A or B country, in the two weeks before travel to Cyprus,” according to the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus. The list of countries is evaluated weekly and countries can be added and removed based on the latest data available.
The Czech Republic allows international visitors to enter based on a color-coded system that classifies countries by their coronavirus risks.
According to Czech Tourism, “You can come to the Czech Republic as a tourist if you are from the green-labeled EU or Schengen-zone countries. You no longer need to show a negative Covid-19 test on the borders and quarantine won’t be required. If you are from an orange or red labeled country on the map, a test is still required on the borders. The countries are divided according to risk in relation to the Covid-19 virus by the Czech Ministry of Health.” Travelers from Belgium and Great Britain are deemed a medium risk, meaning they must provide a recent Covid-19 test.
Americans are not welcome.
Denmark is not open to Americans.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Denmark, the Danish border closure – imposed on March 14 – remains in place for tourism-related travel from the United States.
The ban does not apply to most travelers who reside in the EU, Schengen Zone and the United Kingdom. The Danish government recommends a 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in Denmark, except those coming from Germany, Iceland and Norway.
Estonia is closed to Americans, but it has reopened borders to passengers arriving from other countries of the European Union, the Schengen Zone and the United Kingdom. “Travelers must be symptom-free and must have been present in one of the approved countries for the previous 14 days,” according to the U.S. Embassy in Estonia.
Like other European nations, Estonia is asking visitors who have signs of the disease to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. You may be required to quarantine based on which country you depart from and the ratio of positive cases per 100,000 people.
Finland is closed to Americans. The country began allowing some tourism on Sept. 19, but mostly from fellow-European Union nations. Citizens of countries considered low-risk will not need to quarantine upon arrival if they have a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival.
France has been hit hard by the coronavirus, but it has continued to reopen. The country opened cafes, bars, and restaurants, as well as schools and public transportation. Even the Louvre is now open. France still requires face masks and social distancing of one meter.
France reopened its borders to travel from other European nations back in June. Those who enter the country must quarantine for 14 days. Travel from the United States is still restricted, according to the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
Arriving passengers need to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
Residents of France are able to vacation freely within the country.
Americans are not welcome in the country of Georgia with the exception of those willing to stay for six months and work from home in the country.
Related: Work from home in these countries
While Georgia has not fully developed its plans, it is planning to offer its own residency programs for foreigners hoping to conduct remote work there. The project, according to the government’s news site, is specifically targeting freelancers and self-employed foreigners.
While the application has not been released, foreigners hoping to apply can expect to provide personal information, a certificate of employment, proof of travel insurance (valid for six months) and acknowledgment of a 14-day quarantine at their own expense.
Travelers must submit the application and obtain relevant confirmation documents prior to arriving in Georgia. It is expected to show on the Ministry of Economy website once the application goes live.
Germany is still not open to Americans.
Germany has limited entry to just E.U. citizens and residents, similar to the actions taken by other E.U. nations. Travel from the U.S. is still prohibited.
Greece is a rare bright spot for foreign tourists, but not yet for Americans. As of now, Americans were not permitted to enter Greece through at least September 30.
EU passport holders are allowed entry, including permanent residents of Schengen countries, plus Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates.
Hungary banned foreigners entirely early on in the pandemic but began lifting lockdown restrictions on its own citizens in May.
American tourists are not allowed at this time.
The country has now revised its entry requirements. Currently, it classifies countries as “green,” “yellow” or “red” based on the state of the pandemic in that nation, according to the U.S. Embassy in Hungary.
Only Hungary is considered a “green” country.
Hungarians entering from “yellow” or “red” countries are subject to a 14-day quarantine after receiving a health screening at the border.
According to the Embassy, “Foreign citizens arriving from abroad … can enter Hungary if they undergo a medical check upon entry and such a check does not reveal the suspicion of infection.”
Iceland had discussed welcoming back American tourists, but then changed its mind and a ban on American tourists is still in effect until further notice. Our own Zach Honig learned that the hard way when his flights were canceled.
Related: Americans are not among those being welcomed to Iceland
Only European citizens of the Schengen zone are being allowed. According to the U.S. Embassy in Iceland, “All travelers entering Iceland, including Icelandic citizens and residents, must self-quarantine for 14 days or submit to a COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport.”
As of Aug. 19, Iceland will be imposing stricter entry restrictions for those eligible to travel there. This even applies to residents of Iceland, except for children born after 2005. Anyone entering will have to get a coronavirus PCR test at the airport upon arrival. Then, four to five days after this initial test, you’ll have to get a second COVID-19 test. During that time frame between tests, you must self-quarantine until the results of both tests come back negative. To even be eligible for this test, you must be a resident of the aforementioned countries (U.S. residents are not included at this time). As an alternative to the testing requirements, travelers can opt to self-quarantine for a full 14-day period.
Related: Iceland prepares to welcome international visitors
Ireland is open to Americans, but you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
All arrivals from outside Ireland including citizens and residents are required to isolate themselves for two full weeks. You’ll also need to fill out a “Passenger Locator Form” saying where you will be quarantining. There is a fine of up to $2,860 or six months in jail for refusing to fill out the form or falsifying records.
On October 21, According to the New York Times, Ireland will lock down again. becoming the first country in Europe to go on a second lockdown. Non-essential businesses are again being shut down.
Related: Yes you can go to Ireland, but..
Meantime, Ireland is dealing with visitors who are violating the country’s 14-day self-quarantine rule. The New York Times wrote a whole article on this problem. Some TPG readers have also reported that Americans are going to Ireland, skipping quarantine and visiting other parts of Europe. Not only is that illegal, but it’s also unethical and endangers other humans. Don’t do that.
Italy has been among the hardest-hit countries. According to the U.S. Embassy in Italy, Americans are not allowed.
Related: Dreaming of Italy
Italy is open to some Europeans and there are no internal travel bans.
Rome-Ciampino Airport (CIA) and the Aeroporto di Firenze-Peretola (FLR) in Florence and other Italian airports have all reopened.
Kosovo has reopened its borders to Americans.
No testing or quarantine is required for travelers arriving in Kosovo. It’s one of the countries that is wide open to Americans. Pristina International Airport is open to all travelers according the embassy.
Still here’s the advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo:
“We urge you to postpone or cancel travel to Kosovo this summer. Kosovo remains under a Level 4 Health Advisory – Do Not Travel due to Covid-19. The health situation is deteriorating, and public institutions are struggling to keep up with demand. It is possible that border restrictions could be re-imposed with little notice, and the frequent changes are causing confusion at airports and borders.”
Latvia is not open to American tourists. It has reopened to EU countries (including the U.K.), as well as to non-EU passport holders that hold EU permanent residence permits. Residents of several other countries outside are allowed to enter. That list can be found here.
According to the local U.S. embassy, U.S. residents residing in the United States will be banned from entering Latvia for non-essential travel (which includes tourism), nor will they be allowed to enter by arriving from a country on that list. Several exceptions exist, one of which is to enter with an EU passport if you have one.
The local government is also requiring that passengers from countries with more than 15 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. The list of these countries can be found here.
Switzerland handles immigration and customs matters for Liechtenstein, meaning that as long as you are qualified to enter Switzerland, you are able to enter Liechtenstein. There is an open border between the two countries.
At this time, entry to Switzerland (and Liechtenstein) is permitted for U.K. and EU nationals. If you hold those passports but are traveling from the United States or any other country in this list, you will be subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.
U.S. passport holders will be subject to the current entry restrictions.
Like other EU countries, Lithuania has reopened its borders to other EU members (including the U.K.). In addition, residents of several other countries that have less than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants are allowed to enter. You can find the list of those countries here.
U.S. passport holders and residents are not allowed to enter at the moment. Several exceptions exist, one of which is to enter with an EU passport if you have one.
If you are able to arrive at Lithuania from either the U.S. or any one of the countries in this list, you are subject to a 14-day isolation upon arrival.
Luxembourg has begun to allow cross-border trips with some of its neighbors, including Germany. More information about restrictions can be found here. All normal business is now open and schools are as well.
Travel for EU citizens is open, but American travelers are still prohibited from entering the country.
Malta is small island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean, and it began reopening on May 1. The country’s Prime Minister Robert Abela said at a news conference, “I am pleased we have managed to weather the storm without having succumbed to pressure to order a total lockdown.”
The first group of what Malta calls “safe corridor” destinations that are being reopened for travel include: Germany, Austria, Italy, Cyprus, Switzerland, France, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. This means U.S. citizens are banned from entering Malta for non-essential travel, according to the U.S. Embassy in Malta.
Moldova declared a public healthcare emergency May 15, and it has been extended until September 30. It is, however, open to tourism from some countries. That doesn’t include Americans.
Monaco’s reigning monarch Prince Albert tested positive for COVID-19 and went into self-quarantine. He has since recovered.
The tiny principality is beginning to reopen to tourists, but that doesn’t include Americans.
Following France’s lead, Monaco will allow entrance to citizens of the EU, Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay. This list will be revised every two weeks.
Montenegro is allowing Americans with a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within three days of arrival. No quarantine is required.
The U.S. Embassy in Montenegro posted the following notice on its website:
“Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? YES, with a negative PCR test for novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) not older than 72 hours or a positive coronavirus antibody test result (SARS-CoV-2) of the IgG class obtained by ELISA serologic test not older than 72 hours. This does not apply to children up to the age of 5. Travelers must not have stopped, nor transited through, countries that are not permitted to enter Montenegro within the previous 15 days.”
The Netherlands is in the process of a slow reopening, but that still doesn’t include most tourists. Businesses are reopening and on June 15 some tourism was allowed, but that didn’t include most of the world including Americans.
“The Dutch government is strictly enforcing the EU travel restrictions banning all non-essential travel from outside the EU,” the U.S. Embassy’s website in the Netherlands states. “On July 1, the EU non-essential travel ban was lifted for 14 countries: Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay. The list of countries whose travelers will be allowed to enter the EU will be reviewed every two weeks.”
North Macedonia is now open to all tourists. Skopje International Airport (SKP) and Ohrid St. Paul the Apostle Airport (OHD) opened on July 1. All passengers will face temperature screening, but there are no quarantine or testing requirements.
Norway is closed to most tourism including Americans, and according to the U.S. embassy, that ban is now extended until November 1.
The only countries that “meet the Norwegian Government’s criteria for removal of travel restrictions are the following: Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, and Denmark.”
Poland is open for tourism from countries of the European Union and a few other countries, but that doesn’t include Americans for the most part. U.S. citizens who have dual citizenship or fall in certain other categories are being allowed, but you should check with the U.S. embassy to confirm.
American tourists are not allowed. Many arrivals have to self-isolate for 14 days. Check this list for some exemptions.
Hotels are reopening, and most shops, restaurants, bars, museums and galleries are also open. Face masks mandatory in public.
Portugal is still not open to Americans for tourism. Some international travel is being allowed, but Portugal has had to scale back allowing tourists from many spots.
Some TPG readers have suggested Americans can again travel to Portugal, but according to the U.S. embassy website a ban on U.S. tourists remains in effect. “The Government of Portugal currently prohibits non-essential (tourist) travel to Portugal by U.S. citizens. All travelers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test conducted within the last 72 hours.”
Related: What are travel bubbles?
Romania remains closed to Americans.
“The Government has eased commercial flight and travel restrictions to 22 countries with documented COVID-19 case reduction, as determined by the National Institute of Public Health,” as stated by the U.S. Embassy in Romania. “Travelers arriving from EEA countries with per capita case growth equal to or less than Romania’s will be exempt from 14 days of isolation.” These countries include: Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
Americans are not allowed in Russia at the moment even as the country has mostly reopened businesses and transportation.
Many restrictions were eased in June, with most businesses allowed to open. Effective March 18, the Government of the Russian Federation banned the entry of all foreign nationals. There has been no change since that ban went into effect.
There are no border restrictions in Serbia. The U.S. embassy in Serbia writes, “There are currently no restrictions on entry to Serbia for U.S. citizens. However, travelers should be prepared for restrictions to change with little or no advance notice. Visit the website of the Government of Serbia for additional information.”
Serbia has among the most liberal entry requirements with no testing or quarantine required. There was unrest in Serbia in July as protests against coronavirus restrictions turned violent, but it seems to have quieted.
Slovakia has opened its borders to a few countries in Europe but remains shut out to everyone else. That includes Americans.
All arriving passengers must fill out an electronic monitoring form.
Slovenia has reportedly reopened its borders to tourism, but it has a traffic light system of entry requirements. Countries on the red list face a mandatory two-week quarantine on arrival. You guessed it. The U.S. is on the “red light” list.
And the U.S. embassy website suggests Americans still aren’t being welcomed because of the EU ban on Americans, but there may be exceptions to that rule. Call the U.S. embassy before planning a trip.
The CDC calls the risk of catching COVID-19 in Slovenia “high,” and says, “The CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Slovenia. Travelers at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Slovenia.”
Spain is among the hardest-hit countries in the world. Americans are not welcome.
Spain extended a recent ban on fellow-Europeans until at least Sept. 30. Residents of 11 non-European nations are being allowed to visit as tourists including citizens of Canada, New Zealand and Rwanda.
Sweden has become well-known during the coronavirus crisis for not shutting down, instead hoping the population would develop “herd immunity” without hurting the economy or killing too many people. Unfortunately, Sweden has the highest number of deaths and cases in Scandinavia, though those numbers are lower than other countries in Europe.
All nonessential travel to Sweden from non-European visitors was banned indefinitely. There is no timeline on when Americans can go.
Switzerland is now open to some European travelers, but there are quarantine requirements depending on the region travelers are coming from.
Americans are not welcomed as of now.
Turkey is welcoming Americans again.
Turkey’s international borders are open for travelers from a number of countries, including the U.S.
Related: Turkey is open to Americans
Travelers who show signs of COVID-19 will not be allowed to board flights or enter the country. Upon arrival, travelers will be asked to fill out a passenger information form and undergo medical screenings for infection, and anyone showing symptoms upon arrival will be tested for coronavirus. Anyone who tests positive will be referred to a Turkish hospital for quarantine and treatment.
However, the Turkish embassy’s website states that tourist travelers do not need to provide specific health documentation to enter or exit Turkey unless they are arriving for medical treatment.
However, travelers should note a couple of precautions unrelated to COVID-19:
The U.S. State Department’s travel advisory guide lists Turkey at Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution, due to concerns over terrorism and arbitrary detention. Travelers are strongly advised to avoid the areas bordering Iraq and Syria due to terrorist activity.
U.S. travelers will still need to apply for a visa before entering Turkey. You can do so via e-visa application, which takes about three minutes.
The official crime and safety report for Turkey can be found here, and the State Department’s travelers’ checklist here.
Per the US Embassy’s website on Ukraine, U.S. citizens are not permitted to enter the country, as the Ministry of Health “considers the United States a country with a high incidence of COVID-19.”
In fact, Ukraine recently implemented a ban on most foreign travelers.
The United Kingdom has been especially hard-hit by coronavirus. Prime Minister Boris Johnson famously got and survived COVID-19.
Related: Everything we know about the U.K. quarantine.
The British government has now opened up its borders to 75 countries and its overseas territories. Americans are allowed to visit the United Kingdom, but there is a giant caveat. Americans must quarantine for 14 days on arrival. The penalty for breaking this quarantine is steep, running to more than $1,200 dollars a night in fines for violations.
Also noteworthy is that the following a spike in coronavirus case in Spain, the U.K. has added Spain (including the Canary Islands and Balearic Islands) to the list of countries requiring a 14-day quarantine on arrival to the U.K. The U.K. government says it is calling or texting one in five passengers to ensure they are self-isolating. Those who fail to comply could face a fine of up to £1,000.
Heathrow Airport in London (LHR) is set to test new screening methods soon including ultraviolet sanitation, facial recognition thermal screenings and contactless security.
The quarantine rules do not apply to international passengers transiting the airports.
We have seen some reports of Americans trying to get to the European Union from the U.K., but it’s not allowed and you are likely to be turned back (and you would potentially be breaking the law).
Scotland is not exactly rolling out the welcome mat to Americans.
Still like the U.K. as a whole, outright bans on entry have not been put into place. Instead Americans must quarantine for 14 days after arrival.
Scotland is part of the U.K., and is mostly following the lead of London.
Philip Goldson International Airport (BEZ) reopened on August 15, and the return of tourism began October 1.
Visitors and returning citizens are required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours prior to boarding their flight or will be tested on arrival. If a passenger is showing symptoms they may be placed in quarantine.
In a statement, the tourism board said, “As the country reopens for travel, Belize wants to assure travelers and residents that hotels and restaurants will be cleaner and safer than ever before.”
Related: Planning your trip to Belize during coronavirus
Note that all visitors will have to stay at one of the country’s full-service hotels or resorts that have received the Belize Tourism Gold Standard Certificate of Recognition. Among the requirements for this designation? The hotels must have private transportation to and from the airport, a restaurant on-property, and strict cleanliness protocols.
As of mid-September, Costa Rica is allowing some U.S. travelers into the country, depending on the state they live in or came from. Residents of New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and select other states and regions can visit Costa Rica. Right now that includes 22 states and towns, and California residents will be added on Oct. 1. Those travelers must have a state issued ID or Driver’s License showing they are residents of one of the approved states or regions.
You can find the full list here.
That all changes on Nov. 1, 2020, when Costa Rica will once again welcome visitors from all 50 states.
All arrivals must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure from the United States and have travel insurance that includes health coverage.
Related: Costa Rica reopening
The country of El Salvador reopened for commercial flights on Sept. 19, to Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport (SAL) in San Salvador, for the first time since mid-March.
Local businesses are open with no restrictions. According to COVID requirement-tracking app Dragon Slayer, entering visitors must adhere to the following guidelines:
Produce a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival
Wear face masks and practice social distancing in all public settings, including at the airport
The country has said arriving passengers will face temperature checks.
El Salvador’s president postponed the second phase of its reopening twice because of a recent increase in cases. That set off a constitutional crisis with the country’s Supreme Court ruling the plan was unconstitutional. That means businesses are all open with no restrictions.
Guatemala began by reopening its borders to some neighbors like Belize and Honduras, and is now also open for Americans.
Guatemala began slowly reopening to tourism on September 18. Aurora International Airport is again accepting international arrivals.
The U.S. embassy in Guatemala says on their website that, “Arriving passengers age 10 and over must present a negative COVID-19 PCR or Antigen test conducted no earlier than 72 hours prior to arrival, and must also complete a Heath Pass, available at https://sre.gt. Any non-resident foreigners presenting symptoms of COVID-19 upon arrival may be denied entry to Guatemala.”
Current protocols for entering travelers requires officials at borders to confirm the visitor’s negative coronavirus test result, conducted within 72 hours of travel time. Travelers arriving at La Aurora Airport (GUA) who cannot provide recent, negative test results must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine under supervision by authorities from the Ministries of Public Health and Social Assistance.
Travelers must pass through health checkpoints upon entry, and soldiers are enforcing the mandatory use of masks
There are pretty substantial restrictions on hotels and other lodging. Not all hotels are open. Many restaurants also remain closed.
Honduras has reopened its international airports for tourists. In fact, Spirit Airlines has resumed service from Fort Lauderdale and Houston, and American Airlines is flying from Miami.
Honduras reopened for tourists from all countries on August 17. Entering visitors must complete a registration form from the government, and have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of travel time. They will also be required to sign an affidavit and complete customs. Masks are required in all public spaces.
The local health authority maintains the right to grant or deny final approval for entry, based on their determination of risk of COVID-19 from any visiting travelers. Exiting travelers must also complete another pre-check form online, as well as complete a health surveillance form, affidavit of clean health and customs form.
Nicaragua never really shut down. There are still soccer matches, food festivals and beauty pageants taking place. There were never any stay-at-home or social-distancing orders here — moves that have drawn criticism from groups like Human Rights Watch. Local sources have reported that the government is discouraging Nicaraguans — including health workers, airport staff, and policemen — from wearing masks. Because of these relaxed rules, there have been questions about how many cases Nicaragua actually has.
The lack of rules does not mean travel is not impacted. The Nicaraguan government never officially implemented any travel restrictions, but its borders and airports effectively closed. That is changing.
Beginning in October, flights resumed to Nicaragua including from AeroMexico, American, Avianca, Copa and United.
The U.S. Embassy in Nicaragua states that the Nicaraguan government has yet to officially impose any domestic travel restrictions or national quarantine policies as of Oct. 20. The embassy also states that U.S. travelers are allowed to enter Nicaragua, and a negative COVID-19 test result is required for entry. Travelers should also be prepared for additional health screenings although the embassy says that, officially, travelers are not required to produce any additional health documentation to enter or exit Nicaragua unless they are traveling from a country with known yellow fever risk.
Panama began reopening its airport back in late August, and is now in a phased reopening across the country.
Panama reopened to tourism on Oct. 12, 2020, along with one of the most comprehensive reopening guides. Local health precautions appear to be just as thorough.
Panama currently requires essential travelers to have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Anyone without negative coronavirus test results must quarantine for two weeks.
The government has been applauded for being proactive in testing and its overall transparency. The Panama Ministry of Health has been aggressive in getting information out via social media as well.
Argentina has one of the world’s strictest travel bans, restricting all international visitors indefinitely. Some international flights have resumed, but they are few and far between and only Argentine citizens are allowed at this time. No tourists are allowed.
Some essential workers or government workers are excepted, but all incoming arrivals face two weeks of quarantine and other health measures.
Bolivia is currently off-limits to tourists. Some Americans with official business are being allowed in, but you need advance clearance.
The government announced a total quarantine of the country through September 30. The local U.S. embassy is now reporting that commercial flights have resumed and air borders have reopened, but strict anti-coronavirus measures are in place until at least Oct. 31, 2020.
Boliviana de Aviacion (BoA) airline has flights between La Paz and the United States, but you must have dual citizenship or special permission to enter Bolivia. No quarantine is required as long as you have proof of negative coronavirus test results.
A negative COVID-19 PCR test is required for entry taken within seven days of arriving passengers flights. There is a curfew in place.
Brazil has the most coronavirus cases in South America. Despite that, a travel ban on foreigners was totally lifted at the end of July. Tourists are welcome as long as they have health insurance.
The government has not officially imposed any quarantine restrictions and President Jair Bolsonaro denies the need for them, insisting that only the elderly and other high-risk populations should stay home.
The U.S. announced a ban on travel by foreign nationals who have been to Brazil in the past 14 days. This adds to bans already in place for the United Kingdom, Europe, Ireland, Iran, and China.
Americans are not allowed to visit Chile, and there is no timeline for a return of tourism.
The Chilean government closed its borders to foreigners on March 18 and anyone permitted to return is subject to a two-week quarantine upon their arrival. The country is also closed to cruise ships. Much of the nation is under mandatory quarantine rules, with a strict curfew between 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
LATAM has resumed flights between Santiago and the U.S., but mostly for humanitarian and repatriation flights.
President Ivan Duque closed Colombian borders to foreign travelers in mid-March, but international flights resumed on September 21 including flights to the United States. The U.S. embassy now says Americans are allowed to come, and that appears to now include tourists.
Related: Colombia is open, but should you go?
Colombia now says you’ll need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival. Anyone arriving before October 1 had to quarantine for 14 days. After October 1, the quarantine requirement went away.
Before traveling, visitors should prepare the following:
Negative PCR COVID-19 test results dated within 96 hours before departure
Complete the online pre-travel registration form “Check-Mig” within one to 24 hours of your flight departure time
Wear a mask at all times and wash your hands and disinfect your belongings on a consistent basis
Arriving passengers will face health screenings at their point of arrival. Passengers will also need to fill out the government’s “Migracion Colombia Check-Mig” immigration form.
Ecuador is again open for Americans.
All arriving passengers are required to have the results of a PCR COVID test within the last ten days prior to arrival.
Those without negative COVID-19 test results will need to get a test upon arrival at their own expense and quarantine until their test results come back negative or for two weeks.
Related: Ecuador ditches quarantine
Quito and Guayaquil airports are open and have resumed normal operations.
There are special requirements for the Galapagos Islands. A negative COVID-19 test taken within 96 hours is a requirement upon arrival in Galapagos.
Paraguay has been under strict quarantine, and is closed to tourism.
The country is easing its internal lockdown, but travel bans are still in place – with most commercial flights suspended (with exceptions to cargo and repatriation flights).
Peru is closed to Americans. Peru’s state of emergency was just extended until the end of September.
Domestic air travel has resumed.
Foreigners are barred from visiting Uruguay until further notice, and the country’s borders with Brazil and Argentina are also closed. There are no regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights, but some flights to Brazil are being allowed to fly foreigners out of Uruguay.
Tourism will not be allowed until at least October 31, and more delays are likely. Arriving passengers face health screenings and must present proof of negative COVID-19 test results.
This South American country has been one of the world’s most at-risk nations amid the coronavirus pandemic, and has fewer than 200 intensive care beds available, according to President Duque in neighboring Colombia. PBS reports on the humanitarian crisis currently being exasperated by the coronavirus pandemic.
All international travel – suspension of commercial flights and closure of land and sea borders – has been shut down.
The U.S. State Department strongly advises against travel to Venezuela.
Cambodia is beginning to open back up to visitors. On May 20, it was reported Cambodia would reopen its borders to tourists from six countries including the United States. People from America, France, Iran, Italy, Germany, and Spain are allowed to enter Cambodia. There are still severe restrictions. All visitors will need a test proving they are COVID-19 free within three days of their arrival in Cambodia. They will also need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Tourists will also need to prove they have $50,000 worth of health insurance coverage.
It will still be difficult for visitors to try to enter. Cambodia has suspended e-visa and visa-on-arrival programs until further notice – and has also suspended tourist-related services as of June 10.
The Health Ministry said arriving tourists would be taken to a government center for quarantine and testing, but details remain sketchy. In a statement, Health Minister Mam Bunheng said, “All passengers, both Cambodian and foreign, who are traveling to Cambodia, are admitted to waiting centers for the COVID-19 tests and that they are waiting for results from the Pasteur laboratory.”
China was where COVID-19 emerged, and it suspended entry for nearly all foreigners and slashed the volume of international passenger flights to and from the country in March and strict anti-travel measures remain in place.
In fact, while China is now encouraging domestic tourism, it is not allowing foreign tourism. China is also asking its own citizens not to travel internationally.
People who are proven healthy can generally move around within their own cities now, but they are being closely tracked via their cellphones and temperature checks in public are common.
Hong Kong Airport began allowing transit passengers back in June, but there is no fixed timeline for tourism at this time. Transit passengers are international travelers who are only flying into Hong Kong in order to catch another flight. Transit passengers cannot leave the airport.
Current regulations state that all non-Hong Kong residents arriving by plane will be denied entry, “until further notice.”
All non-Hong Kong residents coming from mainland China, Macau and Taiwan will be subject to a 14-day compulsory quarantine after entering Hong Kong, but entry will be denied if the non-Hong Kong resident has traveled to any overseas countries or regions in the 14 days prior to arrival in Hong Kong.
There had been talks underway to allow some travel without quarantine between Hong Kong, Macau and parts of China, but so-called “travel bubbles,” have not yet been possible.
India announced back in March that it was no longer allowing foreigners into the country. A suspension of international flights has been lifted, but only for humanitarian or essential travel. Some business travelers are being allowed in again. Americans must have an emergency authorization or business visa to visit. No tourists allowed.
According to the local U.S. embassy, commercial air travel is picking up slowly within the country. International commercial passenger flights are resuming, and several airlines have been offering flights to European cities that have connecting flights to the U.S.
India is far advanced in its reopening plans. Businesses are open and the country will restart its metro systems in September. There’s no word yet on when foreign tourists might be welcome again.
Indonesia is in the middle of reopening, but it cancelled plans to reopen Bali to tourists until at least 2021.
The Indonesian government has allowed airlines to resume domestic flights with certain restrictions. International travel is still banned with few exceptions, but the government is trying to fully reopen the economy at some point in 2020.
A state of emergency for all of Japan is now lifted, and the country is undergoing a reopening of its economy, but is still holding onto its entry ban for nearly 111 countries and regions – including the United States. Some Americans with dual citizenship and/or who are cleared by the government in advance can go, but no tourism is allowed.
The government has also announced that foreign travelers are required to submit a PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure and will face testing upon their arrival in Japan and will also need to submit a detailed itinerary that includes accommodations and places they intend to visit. Visitors are asked to refrain from using public transportation as well.
Japan was supposed to host the 2020 Olympic Summer Games in July, but that date has now been pushed back to summer of 2021, and may even be further delayed.
The land-locked central Asian nation of Kazakhstan is closed to Americans. International flights from Azerbaijan, China, South Korea, Czech Republic, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates have resumed.
U.S. citizens are not allowed except in rare cases and require a pre-approval and a visa. Tourism is not welcome. The U.S. State Department has a “Do Not Travel” advisory in place for the country.
Kyrgyzstan reopened some of its businesses in early May and allowed the national curfew to be lifted. Malls and markets were able to open their doors May 25, along with public transportation. Domestic travel is still barred. No international flights are allowed in or out of Kyrgyzstan.
Coronavirus is under control in Macau, but travel is still limited due to active cases in its neighboring regions. The government is in active discussions to ease travel restrictions, however, with some travel between China and Macau resuming, most of China will be welcome soon.
Americans cannot travel to Macau.
Malaysia is still advising tourists to avoid coming. In fact, current travel restrictions on all foreign nationals – with very limited exceptions – were extended to until the end of the year. Americans are explicitly forbidden. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has eased some restrictions on internal travel.
The Maldives had announced one of the most liberal opening policies in the world, but it has since placed restrictions on tourists.
International visitors must now have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of their departure and complete an online health survey.
Related: Maldives reopening
Tourists also need proof of reservation with an approved hotel or resort.
Emirates Airlines is offering connections through Dubai from major global cities including Chicago. Etihad resumed flights from Abu Dhabi to the Maldives starting in July. Turkish Airlines also started flights in July.
Nepal remains closed to tourism. International flights have resumed but only for Nepalese citizens. The Kathmandu Post suggests tourism will not resume until 2021 at the earliest.
Pakistan has reopened for Americans, however the U.S. state department says, “Reconsider travel to Pakistan due to COVID-19 and terrorism.”
Americans wishing to travel to Pakistan will need a visa, and they will need to take a COVID-19 test on arrival. It is unclear what type of test will be offered. They will also face health screenings on arrival.
A ban on international travelers went into effect on March 22, and it’s unclear when this restriction will be lifted.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Americans are not allowed. There are also quarantines in place in some cities as well as curfews.
The Bureau of Immigration says no foreigners are allowed into the country. Spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said, “Only Filipinos, their foreign spouse and children, accredited foreign government and international organization officials, and foreign airline crew shall remain eligible to enter the Philippines.”
Singapore remains closed for short-term visitors (including tourism). Americans are not allowed except for those who are dual citizens or residents of Singapore. All arrivals must quarantine for two weeks.
The country is beginning to relax transit restrictions at Changi Airport. Unfortunately, Americans are still not allowed to transit at the beautiful Singapore airport.
Singapore is also testing a “fast lane” for business travelers from certain Asian countries (like China and South Korea), removing the need for a mandatory 14-day quarantine for them. It is hoping to create travel bubbles with a few other countries.
Americans can go to South Korea, but a mandatory two-week quarantine will make it undesirable for most folks.
While the country is technically open to foreigners on short-term visits, most (with limited exceptions) are subject to a mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense for 14 days. The local U.S. embassy notes that this will cost approximately $100 USD per night, and passengers will be required to sign a release form agreeing to these conditions before departing.
RELATED: I quarantined and tested abroad in South Korea — here’s what it was like
South Korea has agreed with China and Singapore to allow some business travel between the countries.
Limited tourism was supposed to begin again on August 1, but that has been delayed indefinitely.
When foreign tourism does resume, groups of travelers from selected countries will have to have a valid COVID-19 test done in one of Sri Lanka’s two international airports – Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) or Mattala International Airport (HRI), and will stay in approved hotels that have met the safety and sanitation requirements. Popular tourist locations will be open with regular temperature checks. Individual travelers will still not be welcomed.
Taiwan banned international tourism as of March 19.That ban remains in place.
Americans are allowed to go to Taiwan under certain very strict circumstances. They must have permission from the Taiwan government beforehand. All arrivals must have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival and are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine.
Transit passengers passing through the nation enroute to other destinations are now allowed, but there are lots of rules including restricting transit time to under eight hours.
Tajikistan never did have a full lockdown, and most businesses, hotels and restaurants reopened on June 15. The U.S. State Department has a “Do not travel” advisory in effect for Tajikistan related to both COVID-19 and the potential for terrorism.
All Americans need a Tajik visa for entry.
Thailand remains closed to most foreign tourists, and anyone entering the country will be subject to a 14-day quarantine.
There is some progress to report. In mid-September the government announced it would soon begin offering 90-day visas to some tourists willing to stay for three months. Applicants will have to stay at a hotel or private accommodation for the entire time. After a two-week quarantine they will be able to freely move around the country.
Americans are unlikely to be on the list of approved countries which could include citizens of China and a few European nations to start.
According the U.S. embassy in Turkmenistan, U.S. citizens are allowed to go to the country, but all flights in and out are canceled until at least October 1. In addition land borders are closed. Turkmenistan claims it doesn’t have any cases of COVID-19, but the embassy casts doubt on those claims.
Uzbekistan is open to Americans. In fact, it promises to compensate tourists $3,000 if they catch COVID-19.
U.S. citizens need a visa for entry, and a negative COVID-19 PCR test is required within 72 hours of departure to Uzbekistan. Tourists face health screenings on arrival.
Radio Free Europe reports Uzbekistan will lift a ban on international flights from October 1.
Vietnam has again delayed a slow reopening that had been scheduled for business travelers from six Asian countries.
Foreign tourists were originally banned as of March 22, and it is uncertain when the Vietnamese government will revisit this travel advisory.
Some tourist attractions have reopened, and there is some good news to report. Domestic tourism within Vietnam is now open again, and Vietnam is in talks with several other countries to created so-called “travel bubbles” allowing citizens of trusted neighbors to visit.
Australia remains closed to foreign visitors.
Americans are banned except for a few emergency exemptions that must be cleared in advance, and arriving citizens and non-citizens are subject to a 14-day quarantine.
Australian leaders have suggested foreign travel for Australians might not even be possible until 2021.
In fact, the governments of Australia and New Zealand are discussing a so-called “travel bubble” that may allow tourism only between the two nations (and possibly Fiji), but nothing firm has been decided just yet.
Meanwhile, Australian leaders have said October is probably the earliest they would again allow international travel.
Related coverage: French Polynesia reopening
French Polynesia officially reopened on July 15. The island nation implemented a 14-day quarantine period for international travelers back in March, but it was dropped under pressure from the tourism industry (among others), and the nation has since seen a surge in cases.
If you plan on traveling to French Polynesia, you need to submit to a COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test 72 hours before departure.
If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks prior to departure but have an immunity certificate from a doctor, you can bypass testing.
Additionally, all incoming travelers (residents excluded) must provide proof of international travel insurance. Luckily, credit card travel insurance satisfies this requirement. Use a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to pay for your airfare and hotel, then provide a copy of the card’s Guide to Benefits as proof of coverage.
Travelers are also required to have a medical certificate, with the specifics to be communicated by the tourism board.
Four days after arrival, you may be subject to another COVID-19 test. The Ministry of Health and Prevention will be conducting these tests on a random basis, so keep that in mind. In addition to that, guests may also get visits from medical staff, authorized by the Department of Health to supervise.
All travelers are advised to wear a mask throughout their stay and abide by specific sanitary measures. If you do exhibit symptoms during your stay, you must self-report and self-isolate in your room until further instruction from local emergency operators.
Related: An ill-fated trip to Tahiti
If you’re itching to travel to French Polynesia, there are lots of options for getting there. Be sure to check out our guide on the best way to get to Tahiti using points and miles.
All hotels and resorts are beginning to reopen including famous names like the Conrad Bora Bora and the Hilton Moorea Lagoon.
Fiji has a strict lockdown still in place. The country is essentially closed to tourism with no signs of easing the lockdown anytime soon. Fiji Airways has canceled all flights through the end of September.
Here’s how the U.S. embassy in Fiji puts it: “Entry to Fiji is currently very restricted. Travel by non-Fiji citizens for tourism or visits is generally not permitted, with exceptions possible for arrivals by sea. Travelers should contact Fiji Immigration with specific inquiries.”
Interestingly, Fiji does allow visitors by private yacht. Arriving tourists must quarantine for two weeks at sea before being allowed ashore.
Related: Fiji reopening; Billionaires preferred
Fiji Airways grounded 95% of its flights and at least 279 hotels have closed.
Fiji is in talks with Australia and New Zealand about entering into a so-called “travel bubble” that would allow citizens of the three countries to travel freely, but nothing has been finalized. Obviously, Americans would not be included in that agreement.
New Zealand has been praised for its early and tough restrictions that kept cases of coronavirus low in the country. It restricted travel from Wuhan, China, by February 3. In fact, New Zealand is being hailed as one of the shining stars of dealing with COVID-19. Americans are not allowed.
A complete ban on foreigners is now in effect and the border is effectively closed to foreign tourists. From the government website: “The New Zealand border is currently closed to almost all travelers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The travel ban applies to all arrivals into New Zealand whether it is by air or sea.”
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has discussed a travel bubble with Australia, but it remains on hold for now.
As of Sept. 4, U.S. travelers are once again permitted to receive a visa upon arrival. U.S. visitors do not need to bring a negative PCR COVID-19 test when entering Bahrain. However, all arriving passengers will be tested for COVID-19 at their own expense, at a cost of $80 (30 Bahraini dinars). Passengers may be required to take two tests, which would double the cost to the traveler. Any positive test results will result in quarantine at a government facility until a clean bill of health is received.
Israel has been forced to go into a second lockdown on September 13 because of a resurgence in coronavirus cases, but the international airport remains open.
Israel’s Ministry of Health updated their Covid-19 restrictions.
On March 18, the government announced that foreigners, including U.S. citizens, would not be allowed to enter Israel. There are no current plans to ease that restriction. Some Israeli citizens returning from overseas are being allowed to return and self-quarantine.
Luxury hotel company Dan hotels announced it was reopening all of its hotels including the King David Jerusalem.
Jordan is open to Americans according to the U.S. embassy, but they must complete an electronic application on www.visitjordan.gov.jo prior to travel and receive an acceptance QR code minimum 24 hours before the flight. They’ll also need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure for Jordan, have health insurance and take another coronavirus test on arrival. They will also need to install Aman.jo app on their mobile phones and agree to health tracking.
U.S. travelers can enter Jordan, but will be subject to significant restrictions, according to the U.S. embassy.
U.S. travelers entering Jordan must undergo mandatory home quarantine for a period of 14 days, according to this official government designation. During home quarantine, COVID-19 PCR testing will occur on the seventh and fourteenth days of quarantine.
Kuwait is not welcoming foreign tourists. According to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, Americans are allowed in, but only if approved in advance with a visa and a valid business reason or family reason.
U.S. travelers entering Kuwait will only be permitted in with either a valid visa or a residency permit. Visitor visas are not being issued upon arrival at the airport, nor are visas available electronically in advance; they can only be requested from a Kuwaiti embassy or consulate.
Arriving passengers over the age of six must produce a negative PCR test result administered by a health clinic within 96 hours of boarding their flight to Kuwait. Results must be in English, and do not need to be translated. Furthermore, a random PCR test will be conducted on 10 percent of passengers of each flight upon arrival.
Travelers arriving must register through the Shlonik app prior to boarding the aircraft, and must quarantine at home for 14 days upon arrival in Kuwait.
The use of face masks is mandatory in all public areas, and the Ministry of Health is randomly testing residents and citizens daily.
As of July 31, all travelers to Lebanon over the age of 12 must produce a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel in order to enter the country. Upon arrival, travelers must opt either for a second PCR test within 72 hours of arrival at the traveler’s expense (about $50, collected by the airline), or else go into self-quarantine for 10 days. All travelers to Lebanon must complete a medical form issued by the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health before boarding their flight.
And the Ministry of Interior has restricted movement and activities in several villages in Lebanon.
Masks are required at all times outdoors and in public spaces, and all violators will be fined $33 per each violation. Furthermore, there is a nightly curfew in place from 1 a.m. until local sunrise each night.
Flights resumed to Oman on Oct. 1.
A mandatory PCR COVID-19 test is required when entering the Sultanate through Muscat International Airport (MCT), Salalah Airport (SLL), Sohar Airport (OHS), and Duqm Airport (DQM). Each test costs $65, and will be paid by the traveler. PCR tests must be pre-booked on the Tarassud+ mobile app before arrival in Oman. The application collects health and contact information as well as taking payment for PCR tests online.
Qatar is not welcoming foreign tourists. According to the U.S. Embassy in Qatar, non-Qatari citizens cannot enter Qatar.
U.S. travelers are allowed to enter Qatar under specific circumstances, but not for tourism. Entering travelers must produce a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine upon arrival.
Those who are citizens and enter Qatar are subject to a two-week quarantine. Americans are now allowed to transit Doha’s international airport, but their onward flight must be within 24 hours.
Americans are not welcome in Saudi Arabia at this time.
According to the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, “limited domestic air travel and regional travel by bus, train, and other means of transportation has resumed, but international air travel remains suspended until further notice.”
U.S. travelers are only allowed to enter Saudi Arabia with current residence permits as well as valid entry/exit visas, or if they hold business or visit visas.
Face masks are mandatory in all public venues, and violations are subject to a fine of $2,666. Crowd sizes are limited to no more than 50. Grocery stores remain well stocked, and malls, shops, and private entities are open, though some may only offer limited services.
Travelers over the age of eight must produce a negative COVID-19 test to enter the country, with results obtained within 72 hours of arrival time. Upon arrival, travelers must quarantine for two days.
U.S. travelers are not able to enter Syria at this time.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is opening to tourism. Dubai reopened to tourists beginning July 7, and Abu Dhabi is allowing tourists well under certain circumstances.
Tourists visiting the country will be required to present a recent COVID-19 PCR test negative certificate done within 96 hours of departure or undergo testing at Dubai airports. Tourists must also download the COVID-19 DXB app and register their details.
All test results must be presented either in English or Arabic in original, physical form. Digital copies will not be accepted. Travelers with severe and moderate disabilities may be exempted from the test requirement.
The National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority of the UAE (NCEMA), as well as the official website of the UAE, has stated that anyone entering the UAE from another country must undergo a self-quarantine of 14 days. Violating home quarantine is punishable with fines or jail time.
However, visitors entering Dubai are not required to quarantine if they can show that they are in recent clean health, according to local media source Gulf News. Travelers entering Abu Dhabi and other northern emirates must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their test results.
All arrivals will also be subject to thermal screenings. If a traveler is suspected to have COVID-19 symptoms, Dubai airports have the right to re-test to ensure the tourist is free of the virus.
Tourists must comply with preventive measures and safety procedures and must self-isolate for 14 days if they test positive.
Related: Dubai and Abu Dhabi are open
Interestingly, tourists (including Americans) are allowed now to travel to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, but must follow special rules.
The U.S. State Department has maintained a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory on Yemen for some time, even before COVID-19 became a threat, due to issues with terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines. The embassy in Sana’a suspended operations in early 2015, and U.S. citizens in Yemen will not be able to rely on emergency services from the U.S. government.
All travelers entering on U.S. documents are required to have a visa from the Yemeni government before entering the country, and passports must have an additional six months’ validity from the date of departure
Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo reopened its borders in August. It is perhaps best known for the Virunga National Park and for being home to the mountain gorilla. Most businesses and schools are now open. Unfortunately, Virunga National Park is not set to open until 2021. Visitors must undergo a health screening on arrival. Americans need a visa to visit.
International tourism resumed in Egypt July 1. The Great Pyramids of Giza also reopened on July 1 after being closed since March, reported Reuters. The pyramids underwent a deep cleaning of all paths and touchpoints earlier this summer.
Egypt is now open for Americans, but there are some important things to know before you go.
Related: Egypt reopening
Americans will need a tourist visa available on arrival or before arrival via online enrollment. There are no quarantine requirements though you will need a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of arrival. (Some reporting suggests it’s actually within 48 hours, so be aware you may need an overnight test). You also have to have the physical test results. No digital documents are being accepted.
There is testing available at Hurghada (HRG), Sharm El Sheikh (SSH), Marsa Alam (RMF) and Taba (TCP) airports. Those tests are $30, but that’s cheaper than in much of the U.S.
Related: Guide to world landmarks reopening
Related: Dreaming of visiting Egypt
All of Ghana’s borders are closed with no announced date of reopening. Citizens are being allowed back into the country but will have to quarantine for 14 days when they arrive.
Kenya is now open for tourism again as of August 1. President Uhuru Kenyatta says the country has reached enough preparedness to lessen restrictions but precautions should still be taken, reports Reuters.
Under the reopening plan travel in and out of Nairobi was allowed and general domestic travel began July 15. International travel began August 1. Mosques can open for an hour with 100 visitors.
All visitors need a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival. They’ll also face a health screening on arrival.
The State Department has a “level-3” warning to “reconsider travel,” because of coronavirus.
Related: Country-by-country guide to Africa reopening
The island nation was under lockdown from March 20 to June 15 when the restrictions were fully lifted.
Foreign tourism is still not being allowed. According to the U.S. embassy, Americans are not allowed at all.
Related: Planning a dream trip to Mauritius
Morocco ended its strict state of emergency on September 10. Americans are among citizens of several dozen countries are allowed to enter the country without a visa, but they must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure. They are accepting serological tests outside that two-day window. Face masks are mandatory in flight.
Related: Guide to Morocco reopening
Be aware that there are still curfews in some cities, and domestic travel within Morocco requires a travel authorization letter from local officials. Apparently, a hotel reservation can be all the documentation you may need.
To help fight coronavirus, Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones for surveillance, public service announcements and sanitization.
Namibia is open with a COVID-19 test required.
Arriving visitors also have to stay at their first lodging for a period of one week. It has to be a government-approved hotel or camp, and arrivals must be registered with the government.
International flights and tourists are now allowed to fly to Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), but they must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within 72 hours of arrival, fill out a health questionnaire and stay in their hotel or other lodging for seven days before being allowed to move freely in the country.
Related: A safari in Namibia
Related: Country-by-country guide to Africa reopening
President Hage Geingob said in a televised address, “The virus is likely to remain in our midst for a prolonged time and we must learn to live with it … learning to live with the virus means adapting our attitudes and behaviors so that we can reduce the damage it can do to our country.”
Nigeria reopened its airports on July 8 after months of closure. Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Owerri and Maiduguri airports all reopened for domestic flights in July, and international flights resumed in August.
All tourists are again welcome including Americans.
Arriving international passengers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival. Visitors will have to pay for another test seven days after arrival in Nigeria. All visitors will also need to fill in an online health questionnaire.
Rwanda is one of the few countries in the world open to American visitors. Now might be the perfect time to plan that safari adventure you’ve always wanted to take if you are able to swing it. Rwanda has done a good job controlling the coronavirus outbreak with only 4,020 cases and 16 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University.
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Rwanda is home to three major national parks. You can even book a trip to see the endangered mountain gorillas of Volcanoes National Park.
Related: Visiting Rwanda during COVID-19
The land-locked country reopened to all nationalities back on June 17, and the international airport reopened to commercial flights Aug. 1. All arriving passengers will be required to present a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) test taken within 72 hours before arriving in Rwanda.
VisitRwanda says, “For passengers entering Rwanda, a second PCR test will be conducted upon arrival, with results delivered within 24 hours, during which time they will remain in designated hotels at their own cost.”
Rwanda is offering visa on arrival as well for all nationalities. There are a number of additional planning resources available at VisitRwanda.com.
All national parks in the country are open but visitors will have to test negative for coronavirus 19-48 hours before visiting.
International flights have resumed to Senegal, but land and sea borders remain closed. The government of Senegal is only allowing legal residents for the most part. Americans are not technically banned, but according to the U.S. embassy, there are reports of many U.S. citizens being turned away at the border or at airport of departure. Senegal also requires a negative COVID-19 test taken with seven days of arrival and only from the country where you started your trip. The West African country also requires all arrivals to submit a ‘Public Health Passenger Locator’ form. Arriving passengers face health screenings. Hotels are open. There is no curfew.
Seychelles is now open to visitors from 29 countries, but the United States is not on the approved list.
Commercial flights started back up in July.
Tourists are required to be tested for COVID-19 (polymerase chain reaction test) within 72 hours before they arrive, though there are some exceptions for citizens from low-risk countries.
Related: Seychelles reopening: Fire up the private jet
Visitors will be charged $50 to support local public health measures, and the tourism department is planning to introduce an app that will track tourists’ movements to facilitate contact tracing.
The Seychelles said at one point that it was banning cruise ships until 2022.
South Africa is set to begin reopening to tourism on October 1.
We do not yet know which countries’ citizens will be officially allowed in at that time, but the United States is not likely to be among the first countries invited to come. There will be a list of nations that is based on how well they are controlling the spread of COVID-19. On September 18, Reuters reported that citizens of all fellow African countries would be the first welcomed back.
Related: South Africa reopening, but not to Americans so far
Citizens of countries approved to come will need to provide a negative coronavirus PCR test taken with three days of departure. They will also face a health screening on arrival.
If a passenger has a negative test result, they will not have to quarantine. Those who don’t bring tests will need to quarantine for two weeks at their own expense.
Travelers must also download the South Africa coronavirus mobile tracing app, and fill-in all the information on that app.
Tanzania is now accepting tourists with no quarantine conditions attached.
Tanzania was among the first African nations to reopen to tourism. At first, tourists only had to undergo a health screening, but now all incoming travelers need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
Many tourists are required to have a visa with details here.
Related: Dreaming of Tanzania
The government is asking passengers to complete a Health Surveillance Form upon arrival, and all arriving travelers are “subjected to an intensive screening and where necessary COVID-19 rapid testing. Mask wearing and social distancing are also still in place for anyone planning a visit. Readers have confirmed that they have had no issues flying into the country.
Related: Country-by-country guide to Africa reopening
According to the U.S. embassy: “International airport and borders remain, with some exceptions, closed to regular travel.” The government has also issued a Level 3 “Reconsider travel” warning due to COVID-19 and the risk of kidnapping.
Uganda has eased some of its lockdown restrictions, allowing some businesses like hardware shops, restaurants and wholesale stores to reopen
Previously, the government imposed strict restrictions that included the closure of all but absolutely essential businesses, dusk-to-dawn curfews, and bans on both private and public vehicles. Transportation resumed in 33 districts, others who have large refugee populations and are large hubs of transit on the border remained restricted.
Zambia is open to international travelers. The country is known as one of the top safari destinations and includes Victoria Falls.
Zambia now requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within two weeks of arrival. Tourists also need a visa. There are also no quarantine requirements right now, but there are reports of some limited health screenings. You can apply for an e-visa online here.
President Edgar Lungu said on September 11, 2020, that bars and schools would begin reopening with limited hours.
Keep in mind the U.S. State Department has a “level-3” advisory saying Americans should “reconsider travel,” but no outright ban.
Reuters reports Zimbabwe will reopen its borders to international flights on October 1, 2020. In a statement, the government said, “All travelers will be required to have a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 clearance certificate issued by a recognized facility within 48 hours from the date of departure.”
The country had been asking all arriving passengers to self-quarantine for 21 days though that request is expected to be lifted once the international border reopens.
The Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu told media outlets the country was also now allowing all attractions and businesses to reopen including the spectacular Victoria Falls.
Travel Pulse – October 18 2020
Finally. Travelers are preparing to pack their bags and take to the air, road and sea again, according to anecdotal reports from travel advisors, who said bookings are gaining momentum for 2021 and beyond.
“Interest for 2021 travel began to rise in the past few weeks for myself and for my colleagues,” said Becky Lukovic of Bella Travel Planning, a Travel Experts affiliate. “The requests are still pretty all over the place: Hawaii, Caribbean, Colorado, Italy and Greece. A number [of clients] have started actually booking their plans with refundable arrangements or cancel for any reason insurance.”
For Richard Turen of Churchill & Turen, clients’ interest has been increasing over the past three months. “Bookings for 2021 are within 15 percent of ‘normal,’” he said. “The number of guests planning more than one international trip in the 24 months beginning Jan. 1 is very close to the number that just have one trip deposited.”
Claire Schoeder of Elevations Travel, a Signature Travel Network affiliate, said she is witnessing an uptick in 2021 business, especially for the summer and fall in Europe. “Clients are optimistic that cases will decline and countries will once again be open,” she said. “Discussion of rapid tests at airports is helping, and some clients are optimistic about a vaccine.”
Both Schoeder and Turen noted that their cruise bookings have also been picking up steam.
“Surprisingly, the trust in cruise protocols seems to be way ahead of expressed uncertainties about the components that make up group touring involving travel by motorcoach. The consumer media may have gotten this one wrong,” Turen said.
What comes as less of a surprise is that agents are seeing strong sales to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. “Most of the vacations that I have booked for 2021 have been tropical beach vacations,” said Jemica Archer of TruBlue Travels. “People want to rest and relax after such an intense year. Mexico, Antigua and the Dominican Republic have been popular for us.”
While TruBlue Travels received some bookings for the first quarter of 2021, most reservations have been for the second quarter of the year. “I think people are still nervous about traveling during the pandemic – but I will say about 50 percent of my inquiries for travel have converted into reservations.”
For her part, Sarah Kline of Time for Travel is seeing a boost in Caribbean and Mexico inquiries for the first quarter of next year. “My spring 2021-2022 weddings are booking in full force,” she said. “I am getting inquiries from new couples, as well as robust bookings from guests attending spring 2021 weddings. I think it’s because other family members are going so it feels safe.”
Although James Berglie of Be All Inclusive said he continues to receive a few cancellations from guests within groups that were already booked before the pandemic struck, there is nonetheless some good news. “At the same time, we are now seeing an equal number of guests requesting to upgrade their stays to higher-end room categories, and/or requesting to lengthen their stays,” he said. “Additionally we’ve seen a big increase in last-minute reservations, [for those] traveling within the next one-to-two months,” he said.
Berglie, too, noted that clients are expressing interest in Mexico and Caribbean destinations.
“Mexico and the Dominican Republic remain at the top of our guests’ lists as they are honestly narrowing down destinations by the number of hoops they have to jump through with regard to COVID restrictions,” he said. “Our guests are ready to vacation, and don’t want to have to worry about travel authorizations and test requirements.”
Forward Keys: October 15, 2020
The global pandemic has wreaked destruction on the travel industry, with total international arrivals in the third quarter of the year down by 94% compared to the same period in 2019.
But now, research undertaken by ForwardKeys, a leading travel analytics company, reveals that there may be a glimmer of hope immediately south of the US border. Bookings for travel to holiday hot spots in Mexico and various Caribbean islands in the last quarter of the year are looking better than other regions in the world during Covid-19.
As of 19th September, flight bookings globally for Q4 of 2020 were 83% behind where they were at the equivalent moment last year. However, bookings (in order of market size) from all international markets to Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Aruba were behind by 52%, 59%, 56%, 47%, and 50% respectively.
“What sets Mexico apart, and some Caribbean islands too, is that they have stayed open to visitors during the pandemic, or they have reopened sooner, and, as a result, they have gained market share,” says Olivier Ponti, VP of Insights at ForwardKeys.
The two stand-out destinations in Mexico are San Jose del Cabo, on the Pacific Ocean, and Cancun, where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean. Both showed growth in weekly flight bookings from the USA in the first four weeks of September (1st – 27th), with Cancun back to where it was during the equivalent period in 2019 and San Jose del Cabo in the positive, ahead by 26%. Double-digit growth!
America has been “On Sale” during September, with airfares for travel in the last quarter of the year being down by 15-30% on 2019 prices. Fares to the Caribbean were also substantially down, particularly from France and the USA, where discounts exceeded 20%.
“Despite the pandemic and the associated travel restrictions, some people are still keen to take a holiday abroad, with the sun and sea proving to be particularly popular. At ForwardKeys, we expect the recovery will be led by ‘last-minute’ bookings for short-haul vacations, with business and long-haul travel lagging,” adds Ponti.
“As a major destination, Mexico has done particularly well in this regard, proving that it is possible to register growth from its most important source market, even in exceptionally difficult conditions,” poignantly Ponti concludes.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.