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.
Indonesian island of Bali
Bali has also been successful in containing its coronavirus outbreak, with less than 350 confirmed cases and, at the time of writing, a total of four deaths.
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.
Thailand has long been among the top destinations for travelers, receiving close to 40 million foreign tourists last year.
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.
United Arab Emirates
When the UAE, which is made up of seven emirates, closed its borders in March, the stringent restrictions included withdrawing tourist visas and banning all outgoing flights.
A nationwide night time curfew, officially called “the national sanitization program,” was also put in place, while the emirate of Dubai issued a 24-hour lockdown, which meant its residents had to apply for a police permit to leave their homes.
Now the Emirati authorities are gradually scaling down these restrictions.
In the past few weeks, hotels have started to reopen for domestic tourists at a reduced capacity and under strict guidelines.
In Dubai, guests are required to wear masks at all times and can only check in to rooms 24 hours after the previous guest has checked out.
Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, masks are also compulsory for guests and all returning employees be required to undergo Covid-19 screenings.
A number of shopping malls and restaurants in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah have been allowed to open their doors again, provided they follow strict sanitation and social-distancing rules, while Dubai’s public parks and hotel beaches are permitted to open for groups of up to five people.
In April, Dubai opened its first drive-through coronavirus testing center, located at the Al Nasr Club, which supplies tests for no charge.
Although flights remain suspended, the Emirates’ main airports are being reopened for connecting flights, while Emirates-based airlines Etihad, Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia say they will recommence flight schedules in the coming weeks.
“We welcome the UAE authorities’ decision to re-open UAE airports for all connecting travelers. Emirates and Flydubai will shortly announce the resumption of passenger flights to more cities with connections to, and through, Dubai,” Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, tweeted on June 3.
“The decision includes Abu Dhabi International Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Sharjah International Port, and covers Etihad Airways, Emirates, flydubai, and Air Arabia.”
Despite this, officials are yet to offer a strong indication of when international tourists will be allowed to return to the Emirates.
During a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Helal Al Marri, the Director General of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, suggested that foreign travelers could return to the destination in July or September, depending on how the situation develops.
“The thing about this current scenario is it’s a global question: many airports internationally remain closed and it’s really about the bilateral discussions that are under way to have a coordinated approach to the reopening,” he said.
“We’re quite concerned about the timeline, that’s the main risk: is it going to be July when things open up? Is it going to be September?
“We just need to make sure we’re ready if things come earlier than expected.”
Vietnam would consider opening its borders to foreign visitors – if the country they are coming from has gone 30 days without any new cases of COVID-19, experts have said.
The matter was discussed at a meeting held in Hà Nội on Thursday by the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
Committee’s members said that even when international tourism resumes, the destinations would be limited to a certain number of islands in the country, including Phú Quốc in Kiên Giang Province, while public health measures are enforced to ensure the safety of both tourists and local residents.
Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Trịnh Thị Thủy said that in the short term, travel firms in Việt Nam should focus on stimulating domestic tourism while the border remains tightly managed.
Read full article on CNN | Kocha Olarn, Karla Cripps, Shivani Vora and Elinda Labropoulou also contributed to this article.