We yearn for positive travel news these days. And in a day and age when headlines dominate, who has time to read the fine print?
Here are four popular travel stories from the past two months where details were later clarified that made the original headlines substantially less impressive than they originally seemed.
Japan may cover half your expenses if you visit
If reports that Japan would pay a good portion of your travel expenses sounded too good to be true, it’s because they were. After international headlines pounced on reports that Japan was launching a new campaign to pay up to half of travelers’ costs, Japanese authorities quickly reined in expectations.
In a series of tweets on May 27, Japan Tourism Agency clarified that its new “Go to Travel” campaign is aimed at stimulating domestic travelers, not international ones. The campaign, which the agency noted is still “under consideration,” would begin after the Covid-19 pandemic ends.
The following day, the agency also placed a notice on the homepage of its website about the “misinformation … being reported by some media outlets.”
Even if the plan is approved, the implication that Japan is covering “half” of travelers’ expenses is a stretch too, especially for a country as expensive as Japan. Budget documents excerpted from the campaign show travelers would be eligible for lodging and dining vouchers for up to 20,000 yen (US$186) per person per day.
Currently, most foreigners, including those from China, Australia, the United States and most of Europe, are not allowed to enter Japan. Those who are allowed due to “exceptional circumstances” are requested to quarantine for 14 days.
Vietnam offers numerous packages with discounts of up to 40 percent
The Vietnam Tourism Association is running a nationwide ‘Vietnam – a bright destination’ program that lasts from May 15 to the end of the year. It aims at stimulating demand while ensuring safety for visitors, reducing prices but sustaining service quality or keeping prices unchanged but adding more services.
Many popular tour providers, such as Saigontourist, Vietrantour, Vietravel, and Hanoi Redtours have joined the programme by launching numerous packages with discounts of up to 40 percent that targets travelling groups of at least six members and flying with Vietnam Airlines.
Vu The Binh, deputy head of the VITA, said tourism is receiving huge support from the aviation sector, with 50,000 low-cost air ticket available for travel agencies to make discount packages.
Head of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) Nguyen Trung Khanh said the disease has basically been placed under control but tourism is still facing various difficulties and challenges.
He stressed the need to prepare to welcome tourists from potential markets like China, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.
Khanh said if the pandemic is controlled in some key markets of Vietnam by September, the sector will propose the Government ease restriction measures and restart activities to lure foreigners, firstly from the ASEAN region and Northeast Asia.
It is hoped that foreign visitors will begin to arrive in the fourth quarter of this year, according to Khanh.
You can get tested at Vienna Airport, avoid quarantine
At a time when Europe’s most popular travel destinations were closed to foreigners, international travelers saw a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel when headlines about Vienna’s coronavirus testing at the airport dominated the news pages.
It’s true that those who pay 190 euros (US$210) for a coronavirus test upon landing at Vienna International Airport can skip the country’s mandatory 14-day quarantine if the test is negative.
It’s also true that this is available to “all passengers arriving* or departing from Vienna Airport.”
But that asterisk is important: It indicates that testing on arrival is available only for those who have both a residence in Austria and a valid residence permit. This information is now conspicuously boxed at the top of Vienna International Airport’s coronavirus testing webpage with a large exclamation point and the word “ATTENTION” in all capital letters.
Furthermore, the airport’s on-site coronavirus testing must be construed in conjunction with Austria’s travel regulations, which states that through May 31:
“Entry by air is prohibited to third country nationals from states outside the Schengen area. Third country nationals travelling from inside the Schengen area by air, have to carry a medical certificate proving a negative Covid-19 test result or are obligated to commit to a 14-day quarantine.”
The Schengen Area is a group of 26 European countries that have done away border controls between one another.
Countries will pay you to visit
While tourism boards around the world are planning strategies to entice travelers once it is safe to do so, a number of media outlets are reporting on countries that will “pay you” to visit.
Sicily’s 75 million euros (US$83 million) tourism initiative which may pay for one night of a three-night trip along with vouchers for museum fees is one thing (assuming you’re eligible, of course); coverage regarding free sun loungers and tables on the beaches of Bulgaria is hazier. It’s also been reported that Cancun, Mexico, is preparing a campaign that includes two-for-one hotel stays and companion air ticket refunds, and that Cyprus will cover lodging, food and medication for Covid-19 patients and their families should they become ill while they are there.
Hotels, cruises, tour companies and those involved with the travel industry are expected to offer generous incentives to lure travelers from their homes when the time is right. Airplane ticket refunds and free hotel rooms aren’t inconsequential. But whether travel deals and free medicine amount to “paying you” is subject to your own interpretation.
@ Vietnam News/ CNBC