With travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been asking ourselves when we will be able to travel overseas again. Will we have a summer holiday in Europe by July? There have been strong signals from Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain that tourism will return in June or July. These countries are heavily reliant on tourism, so are keen on welcoming travellers soon.
Like many others, we are watching the evolving situation closely, figuring out if we should book a summer vacation. I’m sure a lot of people are looking forward to travelling more than a couple of hundred metres from their homes. We are feeling a strong sense of wanderlust. We hope the airlines can respond to these quickly, and there will be sufficient demand.
We’ve summarised the latest information from the countries that have said they will open for the summer. But will the UK’s Foreign Office travel advice change before the summer? Only time will tell. Do double check before you book any flights or hotels… the rules change regularly. Here are 10 things you should consider before booking a flight deal.
Italy suffered one of the highest coronavirus deaths and infection rates, it was one of the first W estern country to go into lockdown and one of the first to ease restrictions. From 3 June 2020, citizens of EU countries will be allowed to travel to Italy. Shops and bars have reopened after a 10 week lockdown.
Tourism is a large part of the Italian economy accounting for 10% of its GDP and nearly 5% of employment, hence it is desperate to welcome tourists again. So much so that Sicily is considering subsidising your holiday by providing part of your accommodation free (one out of three nights or two our of six nights). It is also planning to offer vouchers for cultural and heritage activities. Further details will be available on the Sicilian Tourism website once the easing of the lockdown becomes available. We’re watching this closely as it’s somewhere we still haven’t visited.
France is the most visited country in Europe, with a whopping 86 million people visiting in year it makes up 9.6% if its GDP. Hotels, B&Bs and campsites are allowed to reopen from 2 June. It plans to open its borders to international travel from 15 June. Currently, no incoming travellers from EU countries, including Britain, require quarantine – except Spain. France is expecting international tourists to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Greece has one of the lowest coronavirus infection and death rates in the world. The country is keen on maintaining this, but are prepared to are open the country to tourism, albeit carefully. The country expects to open to 29 countries and will accept visitors starting from 15 June as the government looks to minimise the damage from the pandemic.
The countries where Greece will be accepting direct flights are; Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, New Zealand, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Finland.
It aims to expand the list in July to include other countries.
The country is keen on keeping the coronavirus infection rates low and will be only allowing tourists from countries with equally low rates or have the virus under control, without a mandatory self-quarantine. These countries include Germany, Cyprus, Israel, countries in central Europe and the Balkans.
That was at the end of May… but seemingly less than 24 hours later, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said that they will now allow Brits into the country with certain conditions. Brits will be tested for coronavirus on arrival and will be required to quarantine for seven days. Testing positive will mean that you’ll have to undergo supervised quarantine for 14 days. However, the situation is evolving daily, so watch this space.
The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez has publicly announced that the country will be ready to welcome visitors by 1 July without the mandatory 14 day quarantine. This was brought forward to 21 June but German tourists are already starting to arrive in Spain. The country is heavily reliant on tourism, making up 12% of the country’s GDP. The country is welcoming travellers from other European Union countries first. It is also looking to create reciprocal agreements with other countries that have coronavirus under control, whether the UK will have an agreement is yet to be seen.
Given the UK is no longer in the EU, we wonder if they will open to British travellers like us by July? Despite leaving the EU, the UK is considered in transition phase so will not need to self-quarantine. However, there’s a lot of confusion as Spain may after all introduce a 14 day quarantine for people arriving from the UK.
Well, due to the UK’s poor handling of coronavirus, the Spanish tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto said that UK will not be in the trial of allowing tourists into the country. Given the UK’s current track record, it’s uncertain when Spain will feel confident allowing Brits to visit.
Portugal hasn’t announced exactly when they will open to tourists, but have indicated that they will be ready to welcome them by mid-June. Tourism makes up a whopping 15% of Portugal’s GDP, so the country is keen on opening up to get the economy going. Hotels in Portugal will reopen on 1 June while beaches open from the 6 June. There’s no clarity on which countries it will open to, but we expect it will be countries in the EU first.
A large number tourist in Portugal come from the UK, so the two countries are in talks to try and secure an air corridor for tourists. This will allow British visitors to avoid the 14 day self-quarantine upon returning home. The Prime Minister Antonio Costa insisted that British tourists visiting the country will not be required to quarantine or self-isolate. However, latest information shows that tourists are subject to quarantine if they do not have a certificate with a negative Coronavirus (COVID-19) result issued at most 72 hours before departure
Are we planning on booking a summer holiday in Europe?
So are we likely going to have a summer holiday in Europe by July? We hope so. We’re following the evolving situation closely, as we’re seriously considering going overseas in July. However, the uncertainty over how our own country’s travel advice will change and the mandatory 14-day self-quarantine when we return is causing some reservations. We also don’t know what the situation is going to be like in tourisT hotspots… will restaurants and shops be open and able to handle the numbers arriving? We are doing our research and might still book a last minute deal.
At the time of writing this blog post (end of May), the Foreign Office travel advice hasn’t changed; advising against all but essential international travel. The current advice would void of our travel insurance as holidays in Europe won’t be considered an essential journey. We certainly hope we will have a summer holiday in Europe, but all we might get is a trip to Barnard Castle for an eye test.
Before you book your flight or holiday, be sure to read our blog on the 10 Things To Consider Before Booking A Coronavirus Travel Deal.
Are you planning a Summer holiday in Europe? Let us know if you book to visit any of these countries and how you came to the decision.
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All photos in this post was taken by BoardingGroup.One our intrepid travels around the world. Photo credit: BoardingGroup.One