HOW THE MEDITERRANEAN IS OPENING UP FOR TOURISM
Posted on 30th May 2020 at 12:53
Now that the UK is starting to ease out of Coronavirus lockdown, what is happening in some of the most popular tourist destinations? Our friends at the Travel Trade Gazette (TTG) have put this guide together.........
The UK’s number one summer destination has implemented some of the most stringent Covid-19 rules over the past few months, which are only now slowly being eased according to a four-phase plan.
The Spanish government initially banned all non-essential inbound travel until June 15, and introduced a 14-day quarantine on arrival requirement for international travellers.
Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez has since confirmed domestic tourism will be allowed to resume on 22 June, before the country reopens to international arrivals – including tourists – on 1 July when its 14-day quarantine requirement is lifted.
Spain’s islands, including the Balearics and Canaries, are expected to open up to tourists more quickly than major cities because of the islands’ lower number of Covid-19 cases.
The country is aiming to reopen to overseas tourists from the middle of June, but British tourists may have to wait longer to be allowed entry. Greece’s tourism minister Haris Theoharis said the country would have to see an improvement in the UK’s Covid-19 figures before Britons would be allowed to return to Greece.
Under currently proposals, seasonal hotels can reopen from 15 June, with international charter flights to Greece’s top destinations set to resume from 1 July. Holidaymakers would not face quarantine restrictions on arrival, but may have to take “sample” coronavirus tests.
Greece also wants to stimulate the recovery by making travel cheaper through a temporary cut in VAT from 24% to 13% on flights, buses and trains. Ancient sites such as the Acropolis in Athens have already reopened alongside shopping centres and internal travel.
Italy, which became the European epicentre of the crisis in March, is continuing to lift internal restrictions, with its ban on international arrivals from most European countries, including the UK, due to be lifted from 3 June.
Italy also does not currently intend to impose a quarantine period for international arrivals from 3 June. Any restrictions will be based on where the passenger has travelled from, rather than their nationality.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and museums are slowly reopening after two months in iconic destinations such as Venice, Rome and Florence. Many hotels are also beginning to announce their plans to reopen.
Confusion has reigned about the quarantine arrangements between the UK and France; the UK government initially announced a mutual exemption, but this was later withdrawn. Now France has said it will introduce a reciprocal 14-day self-isolation on arrival requirement, mirroring the UK's quarantine plans.
France is currently not allowing non-essential travel – all international visitors have to complete an international travel certificate to confirm their journey is necessary and carry the document with them on their journey.
French borders are due to start reopening for non-essential travel – initially with Switzerland and Germany – from 15 June. But no date has been set for opening up to UK holidaymakers, but it will likely be dependent on the UK lifting its quarantine measures.
The Algarve, Portugal’s major beach region, is gradually reopening its tourist industry ahead of the summer season.
Currently, more than one-third of the Algarve’s hotels are open, with plans to raise this to 75% in June. Beaches will also reopen with social distancing measures.
The region, working alongside Portugal Tourism, has developed a "safe and clean" stamp certifying businesses complying with new hygiene measures.
Portugal has also pledged not to impose quarantine measures on arrivals this summer, although there will be separate arrangements for its island destinations – Madeira and the Azores.
Madeira and Porto Santo will reopen to international travellers from 1 July. Arrivals will be required to present a negative Covid-19 test, dated at most 72 hours prior to departure, or agree to a Covid-19 test on arrival, paid for by the government of Madeira.
The Turkish government has said European tourists will not be able to visit the country until the end of July.
Authorities plan to create a health and hygiene certification scheme for hotels, restaurants, transport providers and other tourism businesses allowing them to operate during summer 2020.
Holidaymakers may be required to take a Covid-19 test before reaching the island, as well as having to disinfect their luggage, under plans by the Cypriot government to reopen its border to tourists.
Cyprus initially plans to open to tourists from nearby countries such as Greece, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which have seen lower levels of infections than markets such as the UK.
It is understood the UK has not made the country's initial whitelist, which is likely to mean the country will not reopen to Brits until at least July.
The Cypriot government has said it may cover some costs of holidaymakers who contract Covid-19 while staying in the country.
No date has been announced for the reopening of the border to international tourists – Malta International airport remains closed to inbound commercial flights.
The destination is introducing a range of protocols to allow tourism services to gradually resume, including social distancing measures and enhanced hygiene.
Malta Tourism Authority has created a sticker for establishments to display to show they are compliant with Covid-19 requirements.
The country’s border has been closed to tourists in recent months, although prime resort Sunny Beach hopes to be able to welcome UK arrivals from early July.
Under current plans, British holidaymakers could face a 14-day quarantine period on arrival in Bulgaria.
International flights to Egypt have been suspended since 19 March. Authorities are also making the wearing of face masks mandatory in “any closed public spaces” from 30 May.
The Egyptian Tourism Federation has created a health and hygiene plan to help tourism businesses to reopen safely.
Some hotels reopened reopened at 25% capacity in mid-May, and this will be increased to 50% in June. The country has also set out various new requirements to allow hotels to reopen.
Meanwhile, visa fees for those arriving at Luxor or Aswan airports have been reduced from $25 to $15, while entry fees for museums and archaeological sites have been halved.
Hotels, restaurants and tourism-related activities will reopen from 4 June, whereby inter-city and regional travel will also be permitted.
Borders will reopen to all arrivals on 27 June when international flights resume.
Tunisia embarked on the second phase of its plans to relax its lockdown measures on 24 May.
Other retail premises, including tea saloons and cafes, will reopen at 50% staff and customer capacity from 4 June as well.
New tourism sector-specific protocols have been developed to allow hotels to reopen, including temperature checks, increased disinfection and leaving rooms empty for 48 hours between guests. Hotel and travel agency staff in Tunisia are being trained to adopt the new rules.
Croatia is continuing to open up to tourists and ease Covid-19 measures.
Citizens of EU and European Economic Area countries, which includes the UK until the end of 2020, can now enter Croatia as long as they have confirmation of an accommodation booking.
Self-isolation is also no longer being imposed on all incoming passengers, just those who may have had contact with an infected person.
The boss of Israel's main Ben Gurion airport has said commercial flights will resume by mid-July at the earliest.
Israel has begun reopening some hotels in tourism destinations, such as Eilat, under new health guidelines.
Ministers voted last week to allow restaurants, bars and tourist attractions to reopen, although clubs will remain closed.
Bathing season in Tel Aviv got under way on 20 May; visitors must wear masks and observe social distancing, while groups are limited to six.
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