International Destinations Reopening, But Caution Required

Like many people, I’m sure, I’ve been frustrated by the travel lockdown necessitated by the current pandemic. After all, at this point of the year, I’d usually be deep into planning and booking travel for the upcoming winter season. I completely understand and support the need to stay local, but I’m certainly feeling the effects of cabin fever.

So when I came across a recent posting titled Countries Reopening Their Borders for Tourism, I was eager to read more. The article provides a long list of countries, with a bit of info on when each is planning to reopen and what the requirements for travellers will be, along with links for further information.

All very interesting, but then my common sense kicked in (for once!)

I would suggest that anyone thinking of planning travel this year (and quite possibly well into 2021) keep in mind the following:

  • Countries may be opening their borders, but what are their quarantine restrictions for arrivals? Are you willing to spend two weeks of your vacation in isolation? And what will be Canada’s quarantine requirement when you return home?
  • How much do you trust the government of your destination? If it is a country that relies heavily on tourism, it has a very strong incentive to reopen quickly, perhaps more quickly than is really safe. Can you trust the government to be reporting COVID statistics accurately? Can you trust the government to have implemented measures that will really protect tourists? Can you trust the hotels, car agencies, restaurants to be doing what is necessary to keep you safe? In countries or regions where infection rates are still climbing right now, how can you be sure that the situation is under control, even if the government is inviting tourists in?
  • Even if your destination is safe, are you prepared to spend 9 or 10 hours locked in an airplane in close quarters with several hundred people? Are you comfortable using large airports through which tens of thousands of people from all over the world pass?
  • Remember that a second or even more “waves” of infection may occur at any time, but especially in the fall and winter when people move indoors. If you book now for a winter vacation and infection rates in your destination begin to climb, what will you do? Will you want to cancel, but lose all your booking fees and deposits? Will you travel anyway, but possibly face quarantine when you return home? Will you chance it and then get seriously ill in a foreign country where the medical system may be in crisis?

Personally, I am eager to travel again, but I’m also extremely grateful to have been home in BC when the pandemic was declared. Although I’m very tempted by airline discounts and promises of safe destinations, I will consider very carefully before booking any international travel.