Which Countries Have Reopened to Tourism Following the Covid-19 Pandemic
As the world starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, countries anxious to restart their travel and tourism industries are slowly opening up their borders to international travel – but which ones?
The situation is fluid and uncertain. While some countries have opened up their airports and borders, there is no guarantee that there will be any flights from a diver's country of origin. The UK FCO currently advises against all but essential travel, however other European countries are allowing their citizens to fly. Quarantine restrictions across the world are vastly different, with some nations requiring a 14 day period of isolation after entering the country, and others requiring the same of returning citizens. There is no guarantee that further outbreaks of Covid-19 will shut the world down again, but in the meantime, here's what we know so far.
The Bahamas officially opened on 15 June to private yachts and aircraft, asking that those on board carried a recent medical coronavirus test. As of 1 July, The Bahamas will open to all tourists, who will be subject to medical health declarations and expect to practice social distancing. All travellers will be required to complete an electronic health declaration form prior to departure, which asks about their country of departure, if they have been in contact with the virus, and if they are currently symptomatic. Once the form is accepted, there are no further requirements for Covid-19 testing or quarantine in the country.
All travellers will undergo temperature testing upon arrival at the airport, and will be expected to follow the new 'Healthy Traveler Campaign', which includes social distancing guidelines, reinforces personal hygiene, the use of hand sanitizers and the wearing of face masks.
Belize has had one of the lowest incidences of Covid-19 cases in the world, with 21 confirmed positive and 2 deaths. There has been no documented transmission of the disease for 50 days (as of 11 June) and the government has tentatively announced that the airport will reopen for international travel on 1 July. The date is not officially guaranteed and depends on whether or not there are any new cases of Covid-19 reported in the country. However, other restrictions have been lifted and Belize's state of emergency is due to end on 30 June and, according to an official statement, is not likely to be extended.
The island of Curaçao intends to reopen without the need for quarantine on arrival on 1 July, initially to visitors from the BES Islands (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba), The Netherlands and 'some other countries from Western Europe', although it does not appear to have explicitly stated which ones. The total number of tourists on the island at any given time will be limited to 10,000.
All visitors will be required to show proof of a coronavirus PCR test conducted at the passenger's expense at least 2-3 days prior to travelling. They will also be required to complete a health and travel history declaration form. Facemasks and social distancing are to be required in public and mass events will not be conducted. Diving has already recommenced on the island for island residents.
The Egyptian government has announced that flights and touristic activities in the areas least affected by Covid-19 will resume from 1 July. These areas include the South Sinai and Red Sea governorates which include most of the Red Sea tourist resorts, plus the Mediterranean governorate of Marsa Matrouh. Hotels have to pass strict government inspections before accepting guests, which include having an onsite clinic and an area of the hotel reserved for quarantine. The resorts have been largely unaffected by Covid-19, although they have also been virtually empty since early March.
At this time, it is uncertain what carriers may be flying and when they plan to do so. EgyptAir will resume a limited schedule to major cities in the coming weeks. EasyJet has announced plans for a return of 'Winter Sun' holidays but has made no official short-term announcement. Werner Lau and Sinai Divers, two of Egypt's leading dive operators, have announced they will reopen in Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam from 1 October.
To encourage a return to tourism, the visa fee has been waived until 31 October.
Iceland has lifted restrictions on international flights as of 15 June. Visitors will be allowed into the country providing they either undergo a free Covid-19 test upon arrival, provide proof of a negative test result obtained in their home country prior to departure, or voluntarily quarantine in Iceland for 14 days. The test will remain free until 1 July, after which it will be charged at 15000 Icelandic króna (~€100/£90).
There is little current evidence that Indonesia will reopen any time soon. An official statement from the governor of Bali suggests that it might be as late as October before the resumption of international tourism.
The Maldives initially announced that it would reopen to tourists with a mandatory 14-day minimum visiting requirement, Covid-19 tests prior to both arrival and departue from the islands, and a hefty new visa fee. Fortunately, the government had second thoughts and has decided to reopen without any restrictions.
Private yachts and aircraft have already been allowed to return, and international flights are expected to resume from 1 July. There will be no testing requirements nor increased visa fees. It is not certain if any restrictions may be placed on resorts or scuba diving, but several liveaboards are taking bookings for anybody who can get there.
Malta has announced that it will resume international flights from 1 July to a limited number of countries which include (as of 17 June):
Germany, Austria, Sicily, Cyprus, Switzerland, Sardinia, Iceland, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Luxembourg, and the Czech Republic, Greece and Croatia. Israel, which was originally on the list, has since been removed.
Visitors from some countries will be allowed to enter Malta depending on the region from which they originate, such as Italy (except for Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, and Piemonte), France (except for Ile de France), Spain (except for Madrid, Catalonia, Castilla -La Mancha, Castile and Leon) and Poland (except for flights from Katowice Airport).
Restrictions on all other nations are expected to be lifted on 15 July. A set of guidelines for the implementation of hygiene policies, social distancing and the minimisation of infection risks has been complied by the Ministry of Tourism.
Mexico's reopening is being phased by region depending on local Covid-19 infection rates, with some areas more heavily restricted than others. The Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, in which Cancún, Playa Del Carmen and the Yucatán peninsular are located has reopened but with tight restrictions on certain activities, and beaches remain closed. On the western side of the country, the beaches of Baja California have reopened, although the popular tourist resorts of Los Cabos are allowed to operate at only 25 per cent capacity and guests must follow social distancing rules.
The land border with America remains closed, however, flights between Mexico and the USA are permitted.
Spain has already begun a slow return to international tourism, allowing visitors from Germany, one of the least-affected European nations, from early June. From 21 June it is expected that it will allow travel from all EU/Schengen nations (including the UK) without the need for a Covid-19 test or 14-day quarantine-on-arrival which is still being mooted by other nations. The border with Portugal will remain closed until 1 July.