After nearly two years of travel bans related to CoVid, the world is finally starting to get back to normal. Countries are once again opening up to tourists and people are once again feeling confident enough to travel.
Something that is reflected in the substantial uptick in visitor numbers in some of the world´s most popular tourist destinations.
France leads the way in Europe
Take for example France. In 2019, it welcomed 90 million visitors, which made it the world´s number one travel destination, for that year. During 2020, that figure dropped by about 56%. Now, the country´s tourism sector is starting to recover and is doing so at an amazing rate, as you can see from this graph. This fast rebound is being seen in many other countries.
The level of pent-up demand for travel is huge
People have missed their holidays, and many are planning to get away, at least once, during 2022. A recent survey carried out by TripAdvisor showed that 71% of Americans were going to do so.
Many in the industry believe this will translate into the travel sector generating even more revenue than it did before the pandemic. Inflation and increases in the cost of living are likely to slow the recovery down a bit. But the demand is so great that 2022/23 could still turn out to be a bumper season for the travel industry, in many parts of the world.
Travel restrictions are easing but there are still hoops to jump through
As we said, there are still a few restrictions in place. Where you can travel still depends, in part, on:
· Where you are traveling from
· Where you are traveling to
· Your vaccination status
· Whether you have recently had CoVid or been in close contact with others who have had it
· Whether you are prepared to spend time in quarantine when you arrive
Let´s take, for example, people who are traveling from the USA. According to Kayak´s COVID Travel Restrictions Map, as of the 2nd week in March 2022, US citizens can once again travel to 168 countries. Only China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and 40 other smaller countries scattered across the globe will not accept fully vaccinated travelers from the USA.
Vaccination certificates and health reports are still required by some countries
It is important to realize that the majority of those 168 countries are still requiring proof of valid vaccinations, from American tourists. Or proof that they have had and recovered from CoVid.
They are also asking people to fill out a health report that states they are not currently ill or exposed to someone who has been diagnosed with the virus. Usually, that means that nobody they are living with has recently been confirmed to have had CoVid.
Once again taking US citizens as an example. Countries like Finland, Spain, and Russia are still requiring US tourists to prove that they are fully vaccinated before they are allowed to enter.
Whereas countries like India and Poland are accepting unvaccinated visitors from the USA and many other countries. They are however asking for a negative PCR test. At the other end of the spectrum, Algeria and Saudi Arabia still require US visitors to quarantine.
So, we have not yet reached the point where a traveler can simply book a ticket, get a visa, and fly. First, they need to check what the restrictions are and that they can comply with them.
Restrictions travelers may face while in a foreign country
In addition to these entry and exit requirements, many countries are still asking travelers to adhere to some social distancing and hygiene rules, during their stay. As an example, Spain still requires everyone to wear masks indoors and in the street, or at outdoor events, where social distancing is not possible. In addition, seven autonomous regions have decided to continue to ban smoking when using the outside terraces of bars, restaurants, and cafes.
Keeping track of changes in restrictions while abroad
Travelers also need to be aware of the fact that restrictions can be changed at any time. Often, signage software for covid safety measures is used to communicate these changes in tourist areas. Most foreign visitors do not read or listen to the news during their vacation, which makes it difficult to communicate changes to CoVid restrictions to them. In most cases, digital signage and posters are being used to bridge that communication gap.
What the future holds
There is little doubt that people will soon have the freedom to travel freely, very soon. The question now is – will they be able to afford to do so as often as they used to? Only time will tell.