Most people around the world are still months away from being able to leave their homes safely, much less travel anywhere. But some countries are laying the groundwork to facilitate travel later this year, even as early as summer. What countries will open their borders and under what conditions will travel be allowed? That mostly depends on where you live.
Travel corridors for preapproved countries
Since tourism is such a big part of the economy for so many countries, the idea of remaining locked down, closed to all travel indefinitely isn’t sitting well with many governments. Particularly in regions that haven’t been hardest hit by coronavirus, plans are starting to take place to allow selective tourism – a type of travel corridor – only between some countries.
Currently travel between nations is severely restricted, with some guidelines in place that make travel inconvenient and expensive. For instance, only being allowed in with a recent negative coronavirus test result, or having to quarantine for two weeks after you cross borders. The proposed travel corridors would allow residents of some countries to travel to approved countries without these requirements. This is, of course, under the assumption that neither country poses a great medical threat. So the US will probably have to sit this one out until 2021.
At the moment, one such proposal has been discussed between the governments of Australia and New Zealand, where active coronavirus cases remain very low. Some countries in Asia like Taiwan and some nearby Pacific islands whose tourism industries have been devastated would also be considered as part of the agreement. Nonetheless, the proposal still wouldn’t be put into place until later this summer.
A few countries in Europe are making headway in opening borders to each other in July. To eliminate the complication of traveling through connecting nations that may not be part of the travel agreement, the talks thus far have been between the neighboring nations of Germany, Austria, Poland and the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has also considered allowing travel to and from popular summer destinations that have also avoided major coronavirus outbreaks like Croatia and Slovenia. For the time being, borders between those nations remain closed except for reasons like work.
If these travel corridors are put in place successfully, no doubt they’ll serve as a model for the rest of the world to start opening up to tourism. Countries in Asia like Vietnam and South Korea that had the most sweeping and effective responses to the pandemic would certainly want to get in on the tourism action, especially since they’re closest to being on the tail end of the pandemic. Since agreements would have to be on a nation by nation basis, and any agreement with one country effectively becomes an agreement with every other country allowed across borders, the implementation could be slow and limited.
Traveling within your country borders
Before any agreements to travel abroad are finalized, countries that have successfully controlled the spread of the virus will likely open up tourism at home first, allowing free movement and reopening hotels and transportation routes. Some countries have even proposed offering citizens monetary incentives for domestic travel. For avid travelers, the idea of a staycation might sound like a wasted summer vacation, but there are some upsides to traveling within your country.
For one, it’s probably safer while the pandemic situation is still in flux. Even if travel corridors are established between “safe” nations, other massive outbreaks are possible which could lead to dangerous or expensive travel experiences abroad. Issues with testing, hospitalizations, and quarantine might quickly ruin your summer vacation. All of the good reasons not to travel abroad will remain true until this is all over.
On a more positive note, the relentless waves of summer travelers in tourist hot spots around the world are now gone. People in Spain and Italy who have been bitching for years about tourism ruining their cities finally get to enjoy their cities all to themselves again at least for a few months. (Be careful what you wish for!). Even if domestic travel doesn’t really appeal to you, there’s a good chance you’ve never seen your country as peaceful and enjoyable as it is now. So save your international travel plans for another year and take advantage of the opportunity to see your home in a brand new way.