In some countries where Covid-19 cases are receding, governments are attempting to entice travelers to help save battered tourism industries with offers of discounted flights, vouchers for local attractions and free entry to tourist sites. A few are even offering to pay travelers’ medical expenses if they are infected with the virus.
For now, Americans living in the United States are prohibited from entering almost all of these countries because of the high level of Covid-19 cases at home. In addition, the U.S. State Department continues to advise U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel and warns that changing conditions can leave travelers stranded abroad.
The International Air Transport Association’s online interactive map shows most countries’ travel restrictions and rules.
Waived visas and subsidized flights
Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is eliminating the need for a tourist visa to visit the governorates of South Sinai, Marsa Matrouh and the Red Sea until Oct. 31. Entrance fees at tourist sites in Qena, Luxor and Aswan have been lowered and aviation industry subsidies from the government are aimed at reducing airline ticket prices. U.S. residents may visit Egypt, but the State Department warns against it.
Bulgaria will subsidize charter flights into the country, and recently welcomed its first, with 189 tourists from the Netherlands. The government is making admission, sun beds and umbrellas free this summer at some beaches and discounted at others. Residents of the European Union and other countries in the region specified by the government can enter as tourists, although some will need to quarantine themselves for two weeks, depending on their point of origin. U.S. tourists are prohibited from entering Bulgaria. Go here for more details.
Palermo, Italy, is offering a fourth hotel night free for visitors who fly into the Palermo airport on any airline. Travelers can work with a travel agent or through the Palermo Airport website to redeem the offer. Sicily announced it would set aside money for tourist incentives, but details have not yet been posted to the official tourist website. Tourists from the United States are prohibited from entering Italy.
Prague is offering vouchers to attract local Czech tourists and travelers from nearby countries to stay in Prague hotels and visit attractions as they reopen. The program, called “In Prague As At Home,” gives a voucher worth $17 to each tourist for every night they stay at a hotel up to four nights, to spend on galleries, monuments, museums and the zoo. Tourists coming from the United States are prohibited from entering.
Japan, where the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics had been planned for July, is now encouraging domestic tourism. Visitors to 14 prefectures in eastern Japan can save up to 5,000 yen a night (about $46) per person on lodging. U.S. citizens may not visit Japan.
In Italy, low-income families will receive the equivalent of about $170 in tax credits per person from the national government if they spend money on a vacation in the country. Families in the Calabria or Marche regions receive additional travel credits if they vacation in their own region.
In June, Cyprus began allowing visitors from about 35 nations to come to the island. Residents from a number of those countries need to provide documentation showing a negative coronavirus test from within 72 hours of arrival. The government will cover lodging, meals, hospital treatment and medication for any tourist who becomes ill with Covid-19 while vacationing there. A 100-bed hospital and 500-bed quarantine hotel for family members is standing by. American citizens cannot enter Cyprus unless they have spent the previous 14 days in countries that are included on a list of those deemed to have an acceptable risk level by the Cyprus government based on epidemiological data.
Uzbekistan, a country of 33 million that has had just a small number of Covid-related deaths, wants to assure travelers they will not be infected with the coronavirus during their stay. Travelers who book their trip with a tour company in Uzbekistan will become part of the Safe Travel Guaranteed program and will receive about $3,000 to pay for expenses if they become infected with the virus. Travelers coming from the United States and other countries with a “difficult sanitary and epidemiological situation” will not be sold airline tickets unless they have spent the previous two weeks in countries with “a stable sanitary and epidemiological situation.”
And now for the disincentives
Among the countries that are discouraging visitors is Cambodia, which has made it expensive to enter the country and has set financial penalties in the form of health and welfare costs for infected tourists. All travelers arriving in Cambodia deposit the equivalent of $3,000 with the government (credit cards accepted) and get tested for Covid-19. Those who test positive will be charged for additional tests, medical care and if they die, cremation services. All passengers on a flight with someone who tests positive will need to be quarantined for 14 days, and pay for medical, security and personal services, which is estimated to be about $1,300. Those on flights where all passengers test negative for coronavirus, will just pay for the test and hospitality services for the day, about $165 from their $3,000 deposit.
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