An evening landscape from Santorini, Greece. GETTY

CRA Travel News

By Gabriel Leigh

As much of the western world begins to emerge from lockdown and ease coronavirus restrictions, and talk turns increasingly to reopening economies, many are wondering whether summer travel may still be possible.

The European Commission made headlines this week with a plan to ensure its summer tourism season does happen, at least to some extent, with proposals for borders to gradually open in time for people to take summer trips. It’s no surprise when you know that 10% of Europe’s economic output comes from tourism. And it’s not just Europe that’s talking about this.

Much remains unclear, and it’s become a matter of fierce debate: Will COVID-19 infection levels will remain low enough to allow for safe travel? Will tourist destinations see infection rates start to spiral out of control once they do welcome visitors back? Is it responsible to travel at all before a vaccine?

A beach with a palm tree in front of a pool of water

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A Cancun beach with hotels and palm tree in foreground. GETTY

Let’s assume infection rates are showing promising trends and enough people feel inclined to take a trip that flights are added and hotels are opened. The main problem then is being able to get into a foreign country without having to complete a two-week quarantine once you do – a sure way to ruin most holidays. So which are the destinations looking to make it possible for visitors to return this summer? Here’s the short but growing list of possibilities.

Greece

Aerial view on Athens, Greece coronavirus covid-19 travel tourism
Panoramic aerial view of Athens, Greece. GETTY

Greece is a beautiful place to visit and that means the country pulls in a lot of money from tourism – almost 20% of its total GDP in fact. And Greece, which has had a relatively low number of COVID-19 infections, really wants to get some tourists in this summer. Officials there recently stated they would like to start welcoming visitors in July, although details remain scarce. As long as the EU’s borders remain closed to outsiders it will be impossible for those from the US and elsewhere to take a Greek summer trip, but for now that closure is due to expire as of June 15. Watch this space as it seems Greece is highly motivated to welcome people back soon.

Mexico

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The Caribbean coast of Mexico. GETTY

Mexico is another country that relies heavily on tourism, and it’s easily reached from the US. Whether it will be possible to travel there this summer isn’t yet certain, but Mexican authorities have made it clear they would like that to happen. Two key deadlines are upcoming: by May 19 the US and Mexico are due to make a decision about whether or not to loosen up travel restrictions across the shared border. And by May 30, domestic travel restrictions within Mexico are due to let up. All being well, the tourism industry could start up again by June. Tourism officials from Cancun and the Riviera Maya have announced they will be open to visitors from the beginning of the month.

Iceland

Icelandic horse during winter snow, Iceland
Icelandic horses enjoying the local landscape. GETTY

Iceland, which has all but eliminated COVID-19 within its borders, has proposed to start allowing visitors this summer, and its plan seems the most thought-through and robust of any country so far. The procedure is simple: visitors will receive a COVID-19 test on arrival, paid for by the government, and will be released to their lodging, where they’ll need to remain until the test result comes back later that day. Assuming they test negative, they will be free to explore the country. This plan is due to take effect no later than June 15. It could provide a good model for others as they seek to safely open up to visitors.

Aruba

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Palm Beach in Aruba, Lesser Antilles. GETTY

Aruba, officially a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, recently became the first Caribbean nation to announce tentative plans to reopen its borders and allow tourists back in. The target date for now is between June 15 and July 1, though that’s subject to change. Aruba has had just 101 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths, meaning it’s a very safe place to visit, but it also means they will have to be very careful about how they go about opening up so that tourists don’t bring a new wave of infections to the island. Perhaps they should look to the Icelandic plan. Stay tuned on this one.

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan steppe horses travel tourism
Horses on the Kazakh Steppe. GETTY

A left-field option with some serious caveats, Kazakhstan may nevertheless tempt the more adventurous traveler, as its state of emergency expired earlier this week. That means visitors can once again enter the Central Asian nation, although for now a COVID-19 test and two-day quarantine is required while awaiting results, and those testing positive will be hospitalized. Also, visa free travel remains suspended, so you’ll need a visa. But two days of quarantine is better than 14, right? The US Embassy in Kazakhstan website has all the latest details.

While this should not necessarily be taken as an endorsement to take a trip, it’s interesting nevertheless to look at where that process is most advanced. For better or worse, it’s clear the trend in many places is moving toward finding ways to open up to visitors, and we’re likely to see more and more destinations attempt to navigate this, with lots more developments no doubt in the coming weeks.

Credit to Forbes.