Whether your holiday has already been cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or you have travel plans in the future, you may be concerned about when you can next jet off. With countries around the world easing lockdown at different rates, it seems the reopening of borders will also differ from region to region.
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At the time of writing the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all nonessential travel for an “indefinite” period of time. It is not known when this advisory will change.
Yet, even if this advisory does lift, it seems that holidays may still be ruined for those who plan to visit certain popular destinations.
When will borders be reopened for some of Britons’ favourite holiday destinations?
Spain could welcome tourists back by August
In 2019, Spain was ranked the second most visited country in the world, with approximately 83.7 million tourists choosing to visit. However, in 2020 it became home to one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, with citizens confined to their homes unless they had to leave for essential business.
In recent weeks the country has moved towards easing some of its stringent restrictions, allowing children to play outside for one hour a day, and then allowing adults to leave the home for exercise after almost two months in lockdown.
Yet tourism ministers have been keen to restimulate the industry, which is a vital source of income for the country, though have suggested it will not be business as usual.
In fact, the country may keep tourists out until August.
However, there is hope on the horizon, as the country begins its four-stage de-escalation plane to ease the current confinement and mobility measures over the next eight weeks.
According to the FCO: “While no specific dates have been attributed to each phase, it is estimated that each one will last for an initial period of 2 weeks from May 4.
“Moving from one phase to another will be contingent on the control of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain and different provinces and regions of Spain may progress at different speeds.”
Spanish tourism minister Reyes Maroto spoke to local newspaper El Pais, saying: “We have to guarantee, when international tourism opens, that the person who comes to Spain is a safe person…
“The issue of borders will be accompanied by the evolution of the health crisis.
“Therefore, I do not have the solution of when [they will be able to open].
“On how you will be able to enjoy our beaches, we are defining different scenarios.
“It is very important that the sanitary recommendations are maintained, we are going to have to internalise what we are already doing now, hand washing, social distancing … even on the beaches.
“Those patterns will be in our day to day for a time, you cannot take a step back.”
The FCO adds: “Hotels and other tourist accommodation are expected to re-open when Phase 1 of the plan is activated.”
President of the Association of Hotel Chains (ACH) told the Spanish press: “The objective is to be able to open the hotels in stages and whenever the demand justifies the business effort.”
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Portugal may not welcome tourists back until 2021
Portugal has been in lockdown since March 13 and has recorded no deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic, and as a result, is gradually working to get its tourism industry back up and running.
However, in a bid to maintain its national health, it is thought that Portugal will not welcome back holidaymakers until April 2021.
The FCO states: “On 30 April, the Portuguese government announced the transition to a state of public calamity and the implementation of a three-stage de-escalation plan to gradually ease current confinement and mobility measures. Starting on 4 May, each stage of the plan will last 2 weeks.”
Restaurants, cafes and bars will reopen on May 18, but at limited capacity.
Sadly for tourists, these will be reserved for locals only for some time.
On a positive note, the tourism sector promises a clean and safe return for tourists as soon as it is right.
Travel officials in Portugal are hoping to reignite tourism in the Algarve with the implementation of new “clean and safe” stamps following the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The Algarve Tourism Board, in partnership with Portugal Tourism Board (Turismo de Portugal), has introduced the badges as a way of ensuring the safety of workers and visitors.
President of the Algarve Tourism Board, João Fernandes, said: “In coordination with the Tourism authorities of Portugal, we are making a great effort to implement action protocols that guarantee safety in the destination and allow recovery of the tourist sector.
“We are committed to developing all the necessary measures, with the ultimate goal of reinforcing security and confidence in the destination.”
However, in a phone interview with Bloomberg, Eliderico Viegas, head of the Association of Algarve Hotels and Tourism Enterprises, said that foreign visitors may not return until April 2021.
“This year, hotels in the Algarve will have to rely on locals for bookings, which is insufficient to keep many of these units open,” he said.
“Many hotels won’t open this year.”
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Dubai could welcome tourists back in July
Dubai’s tourism officials have suggested tourists will be welcomed back into the country as early as July, however, this is subject to the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In a television interview Helal Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism, said: “Many countries remain closed and it’s more about the bilateral discussions.
“Is it going to be July when things start slowly opening up?
“Is it going to be September? We just need to make sure we’re ready if things come earlier than expected.”
On April 24, the United Arab Emirates relaxed some of its strict lockdown measures, amending its public curfew and reopening some shopping malls and markets.
Turkey could welcome tourists back in August
Turkey’s lockdown has seen citizens subject to a curfew, with specific rules in place for those over 65 or who have medical conditions.
Travellers who enter the country from overseas are subject to enforced quarantine at a government-run quarantine facility.
The country has suggested tourism might be restarted by August.
Initially, Turkey’s tourism ministers had aimed for a July restart date, but this has since been amended in line with its gradual relaxation of measures.
Once tourism is restarted, passengers may need to carry medical documents proving they do not have the virus.
Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy has also suggested that European tourists will be banned from entering the country until the end of July.
He added: “The tourism sector itself has a vital role in terms of returning to normal processes.
“The importance of caring for our guests in our culture leads us to be ready for the transition to healthy tourism before everyone.
“Our certification programme shall ensure that our guests in Turkey are going to make their holidays safely and hygienic and feel comfortable during their visit.”
France could welcome tourists back in 2021
Travellers hoping for a French holiday could be waiting up to a year according to the French government.
The country has been home to a strict lockdown, with residents banned from venturing further than 1km from their homes in recent months.
Today, French people have been given the go-ahead to travel up to 100km from their homes, with small changes to restrictions expected in the next few weeks.
Some shops have reopened, but bars and restaurants remain shuttered until June at the earliest.
Even when they do, holidaymakers will likely not be welcomed.
President of the Departmental Tourism Committee, Sylvie Chevallier, has said she foresees difficult days ahead.
In the Forbes interview, she warned: “There are going to be difficult situations for tourism professionals.
“We know that foreigners will not return in 2020.”
At the end of May, hoteliers are expected to be given an indication of when they can reopen, but until then things remain uncertain.
Speaking to Forbes magazine, Chateau director Stéphanie Gombert said: “I doubt for the whole year we will have any international tourists. Maybe some from Switzerland or Belgium.”
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