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Despite the pandemic, these tourist destinations are opening for the summer

Italy open tourists coronavirus
Photo via Giuseppe Milo/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As various countries around the world begin to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions, some tourist destinations are getting ready to open back up and welcome visitors. It’s worth pointing out that nonessential travel is still generally frowned on by experts. Be that as it may, in spite of the pandemic—or perhaps, because of it, due to cabin fever or “quarantine fatigue”—people have made it clear they’re ready to resume traveling.

But what will tourism look like in a COVID-19 world? With social distancing measures still in place, visitors can expect a wholly different experience when traveling to certain locales. Here’s some of what’s opening up and when—as well as what tourists can expect.

The Bahamas

The international travel ban imposed on The Bahamas will be lifted on July 1, at which point the Caribbean archipelago will resume welcoming visitors. However, only the islands that have contained the outbreak will be open to tourists. Those who have been cleared to travel will be permitted to move freely between these islands—which include Cat Island, Long Island, Abaco and Andros, Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island, and Rum Cay.

When arriving, incoming travelers will be required to undergo temperature checks at airports and seaports, and social distancing measures will also be enforced. Likewise, masks must be worn in terminals, during security checks, customer screenings, and at the baggage claim. Resorts will also have to adhere to strict regulations for the safety of both employees and guests, and buffets will remain closed for the indefinite future.

Greece

Though most international flights won’t resume operations until July 1, Greece has moved its opening date up to June 15. Grecian beaches have already reopened, as well as the Acropolis in Athens. However bars and nightclubs that make up much of the country’s tourism revenue will remain closed.

“The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you’ve had in previous years,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently told CNN. “Maybe no bars may be open or no tight crowds, but you can still get a fantastic experience in Greece—provided that the global epidemic is on a downward path.”

Italy

On June 3, Italy began allowing travelers from the 25 other countries in the Schengen Area—a travel area that has abolished passports and all other types of border control and which covers much of Europe—to pass freely with no restrictions. But the country doesn’t expect to see a huge uptick in travel at least until 2021, and it could potentially be 2023 before Italy’s tourism sector completely recovers.

Annunziata Berrino, a contemporary history professor from Federico II University in Naples, compares the effects of the pandemic to the period immediately following World War II, in terms of rebuilding and revitalizing the country’s rich tourism industry.

“Italy struggled to emerge from the destruction of the war,” said Berrino. “In the first years, things were tentative. Nobody had money to spend, and few could afford to travel far from home. There were no shops to cater to tourists. Menus weren’t printed in different languages. People who came to the cities just did what the Italians did.”

Spain

Starting July 1, Spain will no longer require foreign visitors to quarantine for two weeks, effectively kickstarting the summer tourism season. Spain typically attracts 80 million tourists a year and the tourism industry accounts for 12% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The Balearic Islands region, which includes the resort island of Ibiza, will also reopen. The island’s famous nightclubs and discotheques were recently allowed to reopen during phase 3 of lockdown deescalations—though not without considerable restrictions. In addition to allowing just one-third capacity, dance floors were removed to create room for additional table space, and masks are still required when social distancing cannot be practiced.

Seychelles

The Republic of Seychelles began allowing foriegn visitors at the beginning of June but with strict limitations. Currently, the archipelagic state in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa is seeking out “high-end” tourists, who will be traveling on private jets and chartered flights and staying at remote island resorts. These visitors will also not be permitted to leave their resorts during their stay through the month of June.

“We are expecting a small number of visitors coming in during this first phase because they have to be able to charter a flight. The resort will function much like a quarantine facility,” said Didier Dogley, the minister for tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine.

Commercial flights will resume in July, but the government isn’t expecting a huge influx of visitors in the initial stages of reopening. Incoming tourists will be required to take COVID-19 tests 48 hours before arrival, and they must present proof of lodging arrangements before being granted entry.

Visitors will also have to pay a $50 fee to support local public health measures, and the country’s tourism department is planning to introduce a contact tracing app to track the movement of tourists during their stay.

Puerto Rico

On July 15, the U.S. territory will reopen to tourists, and according to Discover Puerto Rico, visitors might have to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they’re showing symptoms.

Sources: Points Guy, Travel and Leisure, USA Today, BBC, Pitchfork


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