Covid travel restriction ends: 118+ countries open for unvaccinated tourists

The Covid-19 vaccine and boosters are losing importance for world travelers. There are now more countries and territories — 118, according to data — that welcome any US traveler with no restrictions. Of the 109 destinations that still require testing, quarantine, or both for unvaccinated travelers, 17 still do not allow travel to the United States.
It is a welcome turning point for the global tourism economy that has been impacted by the novel Coronavirusand a bright note for those looking for signs of the end of the pandemic.
“The rollback in restrictions is” the recognition that we are in a new phase of this pandemic, where everything goes more stable”. Most recently on September 14, the head of the World Health Organization declared that the “doomsday has come” for the pandemic.
“The world increasingly wants to get past this moment where Covid Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
On Tuesday, Japan began accepting vaccinated travelers from 68 countries without a visa, ending nearly three years of strict travel restrictions that kept tourists from leaving the island nation; Unvaccinated travelers still need to test negative and may be subject to quarantine upon arrival.
Bhutan, a top destination with awe-inspiring mountain views, spicy cuisine and gilded temples, has completely eliminated pandemic-related entry requirements for international tourists since September 23, adding to 30 destinations that have ended testing and mandatory isolation during the past seven weeks. The Himalayan kingdom joins Canada, the Bahamas and New Zealand, which has also recently eased requirements for tourists.
Aside from mainland China, where travel restrictions remain, the US, Philippines, and Indonesia are currently the only major tourism markets in the world whose borders are completely closed to unvaccinated visitors. race, without age or health-related exceptions.
Experts say the policy changes help stabilize the death rate relatively, despite the rise in infections caused by Omicron The auxiliary variable is called BA.5. They say it is the result of large-scale vaccination and booster campaigns.
“We’re in a very different place than we were two years ago, or even a year ago,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. this. “We have a deeper understanding of this virus, how we can better manage it, and we have a number of vaccines increasingly available that help ease concerns about Covid.”
Of course, having a vaccine is still the safest and smoothest way to see the world. It opens the US passport to 190 potential stamps without any of the hassles of testing.
Due to the eased restrictions, wanderlust is back in full swing. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are planning a trip in the next three months, despite sky-high prices and operational chaos in an industry that continues to grapple with the lingering effects of Covid. For example, international air capacity is nearly 12% lower than it was this time in 2019, according to Official Airline Guides, a global provider of travel data, while domestic capacity has roughly caught up with global capacity. all over the world.
“Countries that rely heavily on inbound tourists are seeing a slow recovery,” said Charuta Fadnis, vice president of research and product strategy at Phocuswright, a travel industry research firm. than”. “For example, many markets in Asia rely heavily on Chinese travelers, and China’s restrictions on foreign travel affect the speed of their recovery.”
Phocuswright predicts that China’s tourism market won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. However, Fadnis said Southeast Asia is “showing a good pace of recovery”, while Japan’s reopening will “create an impetus for the region.”
With much of Asia just beginning to reopen, starving tourists have been looking elsewhere. “It’s really Europe’s summer,” said Josh Geller, travel consultant at New York-based company Embark Beyond. “We already have loads of clients in the south of France and Italy,” and those destinations “are still hot.”
Even with cool temperatures and travelers often looking for warm-weather destinations, Geller says customers are still booking vacations in Europe. He predicts that next fall and winter, Asia will overtake Europe as the top destination for jet-bookers.
Geller said customer bookings have more than doubled from 2019. And now that Japan has reopened, he finds demand to visit Asia in general is stifling. “Customers would call me and say, ‘I heard Japan is opening; What do you think about a trip to Vietnam? ‘”I said.
Casey Hanisko, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, warned that many operators and companies that partner with the trade group still require travelers to present proof of vaccinations or negative test results. . book accommodation or activities such as guided tours. And according to Hanisko, the opportunity for individuals to travel responsibly.
“Effectively, it’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,'” Geller said, referring to the prospect of tourists traveling with Covid. Customers often appear to be using judgment, he said, noting that those with symptoms or testing positive for Covid are all rescheduling trips.
As winter approaches, the seasonal nature of most respiratory viruses makes it important to be a good human being, regardless of official border policies. “This virus is still mutating. It remains a threat,” said Wallace, an epidemiologist in Chicago. As reported on October 3, WHO attributed 9,126 deaths from Covid-19 in the previous week. “It’s really hard to get the horse back into the barn.”


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