Although most governments are still advising against “nonessential” international travel, a host of popular destinations are beginning to ease their Covid-19 lockdown measures and border restrictions and are moving toward welcoming tourists back.
Earlier this month, the European Union unveiled an action plan to reopen its internal borders in time for summer, while countries such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have formed “travel bubbles,” lifting restrictions for each other’s citizens.
A number of Caribbean islands are preparing to open their doors to foreign visitors in June, while destinations such as Mexico and Thailand are planning to open up again region by region in the coming weeks.
If you’re one of many travelers eagerly awaiting news on where you can travel to this year, here’s a guide to the top destinations making plans to reopen, as well as some of those that are keeping their borders firmly closed for now.
Cyprus is so keen to get its tourism industry back on track, officials are offering to cover the costs of any travelers who test positive for Covid-19 while on vacation in the Mediterranean island nation.
According to a letter shared with CNN, the Cypriot government will pay for lodging, as well as food, drink and medication for tourists who are taken ill with coronavirus during their visit.
The detailed plan was set out in a five-page letter issued to governments, airlines and tour operators on May 26.
Officials have also earmarked a 100-bed hospital for foreign travelers who test positive, while a 500-room “quarantine hotel” will be available to patients’ family and “close contacts.”
“The traveler will only need to bear the cost of their airport transfer and repatriation flight, in collaboration with their agent and/or airline,” states the letter.
The news came shortly after Cyprus Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos announced hotels in the country will reopen on June 1, while international air travel will restart on June 9.
Once the destination reopens, visitors from only chosen countries will be allowed to enter.
Officials have issued a list of countries to be granted access to Cyprus in two separate stages.
Incoming flights from Greece, Malta, Bulgaria, Norway, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Israel, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia and Lithuania will be authorized first.
From June 20, Cyprus will also permit incoming flights from Switzerland, Poland, Romania, Croatia, Estonia and the Czech Republic.
The UK and the US, both listed among the nations with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 deaths, are noticeably absent.
However, the list is to be expanded to include further countries in the coming months.
Travelers heading to Cyprus will need to provide a valid certificate proving they’ve tested negative for Covid-19, while they’ll be subject to temperature checks on arrival as well as testing at random during the course of their trip.
The destination has already put measures in place to protect travelers and residents, such as ensuring hotel staff wear masks and gloves, regularly disinfecting sunbeds and keeping tables at restaurants, bars, cafés,and pubs at least two meters (6.5 feet) apart.
The Indonesian island now hopes to welcome tourists back by October, provided its infection rates stay low.
According to a statement from Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani, secretary of the ministry, Yogyakarta, situated on the island of Java, is likely to reopen first, along with the Riau islands province.
Bali’s economy is hugely dependent on tourism and visitor numbers have been rising in recent years, with around 6.3 million people visiting in 2019.
“The coronavirus has collapsed the Balinese economy … it’s been a steep drop since [mid-March] when social-distancing measures were put in place,” Mangku Nyoman Kandia, a Bali tour guide, told ABC News in April.
“No tourist, no money.”
All foreign nationals, except for diplomats, permanent residents and humanitarian workers, are currently banned from Indonesia, and anyone entering the island must undergo a swab test and provide a letter stating they are free of Covid-19.
It’s unclear what the entry requirements will be if restrictions are lifted later this year, or whether Bali will accept travelers from regions badly affected by the pandemic.
However, tourism officials have been calling for a “travel bubble” to be implemented between Bali and Australia.
However, visitors have been banned from entering the Southeast Asian country since March because of the pandemic.
While the number of cases here has been relatively low in comparison to other destinations — Thailand has reported more than 3,000 confirmed cases and over 50 deaths — officials aren’t taking any chances when it comes to reopening the country.
“It is still dependent on the outbreak situation, but I think the earliest we may see the return of tourists could be the fourth quarter of this year,” Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) told CNN Travel.
The governor went on to stress there will be limitations on who can visit the country and what regions they can go to once restrictions are relaxed.
“We are not going to open all at once,” he added. “We are still on high alert, we just can’t let our guards down yet.
“We have to look at the country of origin [of the travelers] to see if their situation has truly improved.”
This effectively means Thailand is unlikely to open its borders to travelers from destinations that don’t appear to have the coronavirus situation under control.
Those that are given permission to enter may be offered “long-stay packages” in isolated areas “where health monitoring can be easily controlled,” such as the remote islands of Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Samui.
However, Thailand’s borders are firmly shut for the time being.
The ban on incoming international commercial flights — excluding repatriation flights — was recently extended until June 30 and Phuket International Airport remains closed.
As a result, the TAT estimates that visitor numbers will drop to 14 to 16 million this year.
Like many other global destinations, Thailand is currently focusing on domestic tourism.
In fact, some resorts and hotels have already been given the go ahead to reopen — Hua Hin, located about 200 kilometers (124 miles) south of Bangkok, being one of them.
Shopping malls, museums, markets and some tourist attractions have also been reopening their doors, with Bangkok’s Grand Palace due to reopen on June 4.
Now, like the rest of the EU, restrictions are currently in place on all nonessential travel from outside the Schengen Zone (a grouping of 26 countries which normally have open borders).
Travelers who do enter the country, with the exception of EU citizens or arrivals from the UK, will be subject to a compulsory 14-day coronavirus quarantine until at least July 24.
Although the government is slowly lifting lockdown measures, with car journeys of up to 100 kilometers now allowed and beaches beginning to reopen, officials have made it clear the country is in no hurry to ease border restrictions for international travelers.
“Since the start of the crisis, the closure of the borders is the rule, and the authorization to cross a border is the exception.
“We have to keep this protection in place, this will not change soon,” French Interior Minister Christophe Castane said during a televised news conference earlier this month.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe recently announced a $19.4 billion stimulus package to boost its ailing tourism sector.
“What is good for tourism is often good for France, what strikes tourism strikes France,” he said during a news conference.
Although some businesses have been given permission to reopen, the country’s hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés are to remain closed at least until June 2.
Even then, it’s unlikely establishments in Paris, which has been marked as a coronavirus “red zone” by officials, will be allowed to open any time soon.
It was announced on May 29 that the country’s most visited museum, the Louvre, will reopen July 6.
“Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history,” added Philippe. “Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority.”
He went on to state that residents can take holidays within France during July and August.
The country’s hotels will be reliant on domestic tourism once they do reopen, as all signs suggest international travelers will not be able to enter for the foreseeable future.
“When the lockdown measures soften, French tourists are likely to want to stay close to home in the short term,” a spokesperson for French hotel chain Accor told CNN Travel earlier this month.
“It will be the moment for them to rediscover their own country and we will be there to welcome them.”
Tourism accounts for almost 20% of Greece’s gross domestic product, as well as one in five jobs, so it’s perhaps no surprise the Mediterranean nation is angling to reopen to tourists as soon as it possibly can.
The European country, which managed to keep its coronavirus case numbers low by implementing a strict lockdown early on, plans to allow travelers back in on June 15.
“The tourism period begins on June 15, when seasonal hotels can reopen,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on May 20.
“Let us make this summer the epilogue of the [Covid-19] crisis,” he added.
Mitsotakis went on to state that direct international flights to Greek destinations will slowly resume from July 1, and tourists will no longer be expected to take a Covid-19 test or go into quarantine on arrival.
However, Tourism Minister Haris Theoharis has indicated health officials will conduct spot tests when necessary.
“The tourism experience this summer may be slightly different from what you’ve had in previous years,” Mitsotakis told CNN earlier this month.
“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.”
Greece resumed regular ferry services to its islands on May 25, while travel restrictions within the country were lifted on May 18, “allowing movement from one prefecture to another,” apart from the islands.
Bars and restaurants have also been allowed to take up business again, while city hotels are scheduled to reopen on June 1, followed by seasonal hotels in July.
All international passengers had previously been required to take a Covid-19 test upon arrival or go into quarantine for 14 days.
Mitsotakis had suggested tourists would be required to undergo testing before their visit as a further precaution in the future, but it seems this is no longer the case.
Although nonessential travel to Germany is prohibited at present, the land of poets and thinkers intends to lift restrictions for EU countries from June 15, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Officials are also considering allowing entry to visitors from Turkey, the UK, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, although a final decision is yet to be made.
The proposal was listed in a paper called “Criteria for the Enabling of intra-European Tourism,” which suggested the current travel warnings would be replaced by individual travel advice relating to each country.
“The revitalization of tourism is important both for travelers and the German travel industry, as well as for the economic stability of the respective target countries,” it reads.
The Austria/Germany land border is also reopening — travel between Austria and Germany will be possible from June 15 — and restrictions around the country are being relaxed.
While bars are still closed, restaurants began reopening on May 18, while hotels were permitted to open up again from May 29.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has opted to extend social distancing rules until June 29.
Mexico is aiming to welcome visitors back within weeks.
While the nation remains in lockdown, with hotels and restaurants yet to recommence business, officials are planning to reopen the country bit by bit in order to get things back on track.
“The plan for the country is to open in stages and by regions,” WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara told CNN Travel recently.
“The target is domestic travelers first, followed by travelers from the US and Canada and then the rest of the world.
The border between the US and Mexico border is closed to “nonessential” travel until at least June 22 and most international flights in and out of Mexico’s key airports are currently suspended or significantly reduced.
However, Delta Air Lines will be increasing and/or resuming various services from the US to Cancun, Mexico City Los Cabos and Puerta Vallarta in the coming weeks.
Quintana Roo, a state on the Caribbean side of Mexico that’s home to the likes of Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, hopes to reopen in mid-June, according to Marisol Vanegas, the state’s tourism secretary.
“We want to revive tourism and expect to start opening sights and hotels sometime between June 10 and 15 but don’t know which ones yet,” she says.
“It depends on what the federal government allows us to do.”
Meanwhile, Los Cabos will kick off a five-phase plan to revive tourism in June.
Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, says he hopes to be able to accept both international and domestic travelers by August and September.
However, beach destination Riviera Nayarit, situated north of Puerta Vallarta, currently has no immediate plans to bring back tourists, according to Richard Zarkin, the public relations manager for the Riviera Nayarit Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Turkey made over $34.5 billion from tourism in 2019, and the transcontinental country is eager to get back in business.
According to Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy, the destination plans to restart domestic tourism by the close of May and hopes to receive international visitors from mid-June.
During an interview with Turkish news channel NTV, Ersoy indicated that Turkey may reopen to Asian countries such as China and South Korea first.
The country has set out new guidelines for its hotels and resort facilities, such as temperature checks at entrances and at least 12 hours of room ventilation after checkout. Guests will be required to wear face masks and maintain social distancing.
“The more transparent and detailed information we give, the more we will earn the confidence of tourists,” Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy told Reuters earlier this month while revealing plans to open around half of Turkey’s hotels this year.
Meanwhile, restrictions on intercity travel have been lifted, while restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities are permitted to reopen from June 1, along with beaches and museums.
Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest markets, is also preparing to reopen for the first time in two months on June 1.
Italy has been one of the destinations worst hit by the pandemic, but the hugely popular European country is keen to get its tourism industry up and running now that infection rates have slowed down.
Travelers from the EU, along with the UK and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, will be allowed to enter without having to go into quarantine starting June 3, in a move the government has described as a “calculated risk.”
“We’re facing a calculated risk in the knowledge that the contagion curve may rise again,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in a televised address to the nation earlier this month.
“We have to accept it; otherwise, we will never be able to start up again.”
Visitors were previously required to undergo a two-week quarantine before being allowed entry.
All museums, including Rome’s Vatican Museums, have been slowly reopening throughout May with strict social-distancing rules. Bars and restaurants were permitted to reopen with reduced numbers of diners as well as plastic shields to divide customers, on May 18.
St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican also opened its doors again on May 18 after being closed for over two months, while Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is scheduled to return to railways on July 8.
Meanwhile, the Italian island of Sicily has brought in a scheme to attract travelers back, with subsidized holidays for domestic and international visitors available.
Spain’s lockdown was one of the toughest in Europe, but restrictions are gently being lifted. Beaches set to reopen in June while hotels in some parts of the country have already been permitted to resume business.
From July 1, the European destination, which welcomed a record 84 million visitors in 2019, will grant EU travelers permission to enter without having to quarantine for two weeks.
“Come July, we will allow the arrival of foreign tourists to Spain under safe conditions,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at a recent news conference.
“We will guarantee that tourists are not at risk, and that they don’t represent a risk (to Spain).”
While there’s been little mention of opening borders to travelers beyond the EU, it’s thought Spain is hoping to follow the lead of destinations such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic by establishing safe corridors, or a “travel bubble,” with nearby destinations that have managed to keep the outbreak under control.
“We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person,” Spanish Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto recently told local newspaper El Pais.
“The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis.”
At present, it’s mandatory for anyone 6 and older to wear face masks while in public, both indoors and outdoors, “where it is not possible to maintain [an interpersonal] distance.”
The island nation, made up of over 1,000 islands, closed its national borders and canceled all flights shortly after recording its first two coronavirus cases in March.
However, around 30 resorts here have stayed open, with tourists opting to self-isolate in the famous honeymoon destination rather than return home.
The Maldives has recorded around 1,457 confirmed cases and five deaths from Covid-19 so far.
According to Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, the country could be in the position to receive tourists by the end of 2020.
“Within the next three months, the Maldives will become the first Covid-19 free country in the Asia region hopefully,” during an online Maldivian parliament meeting.
“We are conducting surveys to begin safe tourism when we reach that road.”
A phased reopening has been proposed that would see private jets and super yachts allowed entry from June
1, charter flights and private jets will be charged a $50,000 landing fee.
The government has also issued a “Safe Tourism License” for tourist facilities that comply with government legislation and certain safety requirements, such as having a certified medic readily available and holding an “adequate stock” of PPE equipment.
Travelers who made the trip over will need to have a confirmed booking with a tourist facility with a “Safe Tourism Licence,” as well as a special $100 tourist visa available to those committed to spending a minimum of 14 days in the country.
Visitors will also need to present a valid medical certificate confirming they are Covid-19 free.
The Maldives received more than 1.7 million visitors in 2019 and had been expected numbers to rise to two million in 2020.
The tropical destination, which closed its orders to foreign travelers on March 23, is to begin its phased reopening on June 4, when it will lift it borders to visitors from the United States.
Those traveling to the country must present “certified proof” of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 48 hours of boarding their flight.
Visitors will also be subject to screening and temperature checks by port health authorities and must wear face masks and maintain social distancing during their visit.
Officials are also bringing in new safety measures for taxis to separate drivers and passengers.
“Our new protocols have been carefully crafted and will build confidence among travelers and our citizens,” Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee said in a statement.
“The government of Saint Lucia remains resolved to protect both lives and livelihoods as it jump starts its economy.”
Local businesses have also been allowed to reopen, provided they have appropriate cleaning measures and social distancing measures in place.
Details of the second phase of the island’s reopening, which is to begin on August 1, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Portugal is still in the process of relaxing lockdown restrictions, allowing restaurants, museums and coffee shops to reopen at reduced capacity from mid-May.
But the European country is keen to revive its struggling tourism industry, with Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva recently declaring “tourists are welcome.”
While visitors from outside the EU are banned until at least June 15, some routes in and out of Portuguese-speaking nations such as Brazil are still operating.
The land border between Portugal and Spain, which has been closed to tourists since March, is unlikely to reopen until EU travel restrictions are lifted.
“We are gradually going to start looking at easing border controls,” Internal Affairs Minister Eduardo Cabrita said earlier this month.
Although the prospect of reopening to international tourists appears to be a little while off, officials are putting measures in place to ensure foreign travelers will feel confident to return once they’re able to.
Rita Marques, the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism, has launched a “don’t cancel, postpone” scheme, allowing tourists to reschedule any pre-arranged holidays to Portugal until the close of 2021.
This is valid for all bookings made through accredited travel agencies, along with hotels or Airbnbs, for trips scheduled between March 13 and September 30, 2020.
In addition, national tourism authority Turismo de Portugal has created a free hygiene-certification stamp to distinguish “Clean & Safe” tourism enterprises to increase visitors’ confidence.
Businesses will have to comply with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of Covid-19 to receive the stamp, which is valid for one year.
According to Santos Silva, Portugal’s airports will soon be introducing health checks for arrivals, but visitors will not be subject to a mandatory quarantine.
However, the visitor’s bureau for the Caribbean island, which has reported just over 100 confirmed coronavirus cases, says this “tentative” date may change if Aruba opts to “consider additional precautionary measures as needed.”
Although there’s no mention of any Covid-19 testing requirements for arrivals, tourists will be required to undergo temperature checks on arrival.
While nonessential businesses including shopping malls, cinemas, beauty salons and outdoor restaurants were allowed to reopen on May 25, the island country’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew remains in place.
This means such establishments are required to close by 10 p.m. every day.
In addition, the department of Public Health has introduced the “Aruba Health & Happiness Code,” a mandatory cleaning and hygiene certification program for all businesses related to tourism in the country.
But the country was forced to close its winter resorts and place a ban on all foreign visitors back in March because of the crisis.
Eager to revive its tourism sector, the country’s government says it plans to reopen to international travelers on July 1.
Officials have brought in a three-stage “anti-crisis” plan, which includes a marketing campaign designed to promote Georgia as a “safe destination.”
The next stage will allow for domestic travel in special “safe” tourism zones, while the final stage involves reopening borders and resuming some flights.
“We are transitioning to the third stage [of Covid-19 response], which means post-crisis management of the economy and devising plans [on] how to kickstart different sectors,” Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said at a recent council meeting focused on fighting Covid-19.
“[The] tourism sector will be first to which emergency relief measures will apply.”
While other destinations are relaxing travel restrictions and bringing in measures to lure travelers back, the UK is choosing to enact stricter regulations.
Despite previously opting against a mandatory quarantine for travelers, the government recently announced that, as of June 8, all arriving travelers will be required to self-isolate for a 14-day period.
Under the new rules, all arrivals will have to provide an address, at which they must remain for two weeks.
Those who break the rules will be subject to fines of up to $1,218.
The decision, which is to be reviewed every three weeks, has quashed any hopes of rescuing international tourism here in the coming weeks.
It’s thought the move may discourage airlines from restarting flight operations swiftly, while officials have warned there’s little chance of UK residents being able to go abroad this summer.
“I’m saying, right now you can’t travel abroad,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps said during a BBC television interview when asked whether UK citizens should book flights in July.
“If you are booking it, you are clearly by very nature taking a chance of where the direction of this virus goes and therefore where the travel advice is in the future.”
Around nine out of 10 flights have been grounded since the UK went into lockdown.
At present, hotels are primed to open in early July, but as EU border restrictions are still in place, it’s likely the UK will be focusing on domestic travel for now.
Luxury country house hotel Beaverbrook is one of many establishments eagerly waiting to be given the go ahead to open their doors again while implementing major changes to protect guests and staff.
“We’re still awaiting further clarity from the government on when the hotel can reopen, but we have been working behind the scenes to adapt our operations to ensure extra safety for both our staff and guests when we do,” a spokesperson from the Surrey hotel told CNN Travel earlier this month.
“All visitors and staff will be required to submit a temperature check on arrival and be asked to sanitize their hands when entering all buildings on the estate.
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