Many destinations are considering what the easing of tourism could look like. What that means for those who love to travel – the big overview.
Italy: Book online on the beach?
The beaches are cleaned, everywhere in Italy, and with 7000 kilometers of coast this is a lot of work. The driftwood is taken away, sand is piled up, the changing rooms are painted. But nobody knows exactly what the summer vacation 2020 will look like. Do you go to the beach in shifts, the older ones in the morning, the younger ones in the afternoon? Do you have to reserve your place online? There are many ideas for more safety, the most unlikely was around the world: plexiglass boxes around every parasol.
Nobody is currently counting on foreign guests with purchasing power, from whom one would otherwise make a living, but with a full measure of inland tourism. However, he will not be able to save the financial year of this extremely important branch of the economy. The government is now considering a vacation bonus for families in need: 300 to 500 euros. The Italian hotel association Federalberghi calls on the Italians to call in the accommodations of their choice, negotiate flexible bookings, that is easily postponed, and then – above all – book.
France: only in the park
A pastis at the port of Marseille, a stroll along the Seine or eating mussels in Brittany – more than 85 million foreign tourists come to France, the Mediterranean or Atlantic coast, to Paris, to Provence every year. But not even the French know yet whether they can go to the sea this summer. All beaches are closed until at least June 1st. It will be decided at the end of May when restaurants and bars can receive guests again.
In Paris alone, which was hit hardest by the corona virus with its suburbs, 25,400 restaurants have closed since mid-March. Even though a slight easing of the curfew is expected from May 11, freedom of travel within the country remains restricted. French people cannot go further than 100 kilometers from their place of residence. During the curfew, the radius of the individual was limited to one kilometer. It could almost look like a holiday if you can enter the park around the corner again at some point.
Turkey: Many ideas
Turkish Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy is already talking about the “new normal”. Ersoy’s new normal, that is tourism in the sign of the epidemic: holiday fun after and despite Corona, devised in need. The pandemic has hit the long-struck Turkish economy hard, and tourism is an important source of income. The minister has devised a certification system for hotels and resorts. In practice, tables in the restaurant and deckchairs on the beach are to be placed at a greater distance, thermal cameras are to be installed at the entrances, and virus traps such as carpets or heavy curtains are to be removed.
Meals should only be offered packaged at the buffet; after the change of guests, rooms should be specially cleaned, ventilated and checked with ultraviolet techniques. In addition, there are special pandemic training courses for staff, disinfection techniques and the like: All of this is to be included in an evaluation scale for tourism providers, hotels and resorts who can use them to qualify.
Denmark: Further close
Denmark closed its borders early, on March 14th, for all non-Danes who do not have a residence permit or a job in the country. The gradual opening of the border to Denmark, which Schleswig-Holstein has announced for May 15, is now raising hopes. However, it only applies to the German side of the border. Denmark continues to keep its border tight.
But the debate has been going on for a long time. In the Politiken newspaper, politicians from tourist regions pushed for a clear political statement. He wants an opening for July 1st, said the Mayor of Hjørring in Northern Denmark, Arne Boelt. «But if it is clear that this is completely unrealistic, then please announce it now. Then we can now start to attract Danish guests. » Tourism brings 8.1 percent of the gross domestic product, above all German tourists occupy the beds. Justice Minister Nick Hækkerup asked for patience until May 10. At the moment there are “no considerations” to restart tourism.
Greece: test on departure?
It is unfair: Greece has done a lot better than other countries in the face of the Corona pandemic – and yet it could be hit harder economically. While other governments were still hesitant, Athens closed schools and restaurants early, imposed exit restrictions, and quarantined travelers. And so, to this day, far fewer infected and dead people than other EU countries.
Nevertheless, two thirds of all Greek hoteliers fear bankruptcy if guests stay away this summer. The government now wants to ramp up the sector step by step: with clear distance rules, regular tests for hotel employees. So, hopefully, foreign guests should be able to come back from July – provided that Europe-wide rules on infection protection are agreed. For example, by testing travelers in Corona before departure. On the other hand, if other governments “quarantine everyone who returns from our country”, nobody will come, says Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis.
Croatia: guests welcome
First Corona and then an earthquake: Croatia had to suffer twice this spring. Whereby: It is now becoming apparent that the corona pandemic has struck the country comparatively mildly compared to others. The authorities registered the first infection on February 25: in a man who returned from Italy, where the virus had been raging for weeks. Zagreb immediately imposed curfews, introduced stricter border controls despite protests from the neighboring Slovenian government, and quarantined immigrants.
To date, over 2,100 Corona cases have been registered in Croatia – a hundred times less than beyond the Adriatic, in Italy. In order to translate this epidemiological location advantage into visitor numbers, the government first wants to bilaterally agree with countries such as Slovenia and the Czech Republic how guests can enter and exit quarantine-free from there, for example with certificates of negative corona tests from the country of origin. The government also hopes to come to an agreement with Germany soon – or, even better: with the whole EU.
United Arab Emirates: reunion in winter
In July it can quickly get 50 degrees in Dubai – for most tourists no temperature in which they stroll through the city, especially when skyscrapers are close together. Rather, the emirate is a popular winter travel destination. When gray November weather and drizzle alternate here, the United Arab Emirates greet with blue skies and 25 degrees.
From July the Ministry of Tourism wants to let visitors back into the country, only gradually, but with enough start-up for the winter season. No tourists have been allowed into the country since mid-March. Shortly afterwards, the government announced curfews, closing attractions, shopping malls, mosques and churches, schools and universities. The world expo planned for October was also postponed by one year. The measures have been eased since the end of April. The Emirates will probably not get around 21 million visitors a year this year. But you want to be prepared until winter. Dunja Ramadan
Spain: The Canaries go ahead
Tourism is the most important industry in Spain, most recently it generated around 18 percent of the country’s total economic output. For this reason, the associations of hotel, holiday home and restaurant owners are pressing for the left-wing coalition ruling in Madrid to lift all restrictions at the beginning of the main season in early July. The strictest curfew has been in effect among all EU countries since mid-March. Nobody is allowed to leave their home region without the authorities’ permission. Almost all hotels have been closed since then.
Gradually, they should start operating again, but with great restrictions: Common areas such as dining rooms and bars as well as swimming pools will initially remain closed. If the pandemic is largely contained by the end of June, these areas could also be reopened, as could the beaches. The three Canary Islands of El Hierro, La Graciosa and La Gomera, as well as the Balearic Island of Formentera, on which only a few Corona cases have been registered, will go ahead with the opening.
Israel: Open hotels
Before the Corona crisis, Israel’s tourism industry broke new records almost every month. Now there are days when only one plane lands at Ben Gurion Airport. Foreigners are still denied entry. On Tuesday, the government announced that hotels, guesthouses and national parks are now open, at least for domestic guests. Beach life is still prohibited, only «sporting activities» in the sea are allowed. “Within the next few weeks” domestic flights between Tel Aviv and Eilat in the south of the country are to be started. As for international flights, they are looking for “ways to reconnect to the world without exposing the country to the virus,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Based on an initiative by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Israel has joined an alliance consisting of seven countries. These countries are united by the fact that they have low infection rates and want to quickly allow travel between their countries.
Austria: advances on the Alpine route
In Austria the hotels are supposed to open again before the Pentecost weekend, the lido at the lakes are also being prepared and the mountain is calling anyway. However, it should still take some time before the vacation spots reach a decent occupancy rate. Because summer is long and worries are great. It will depend to a large extent on tourism how well the Austrian economy gets going again after the Corona crash. The industry contributes almost 16 percent to the gross domestic product and employs around 800,000 people.
Austrians, who were urged by the government to go on sunny solidarity vacations at home, cannot stop the impending decline alone. After all, 70 percent of all 150 million overnight stays were booked by foreigners last year, half by Germans. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz therefore suggests bilateral border agreements. Such an opening of the Alpine route, for example, has so far had little interest in Germany. The Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter spoke to the media as follows: “Perhaps there is a possibility that one can find specific solutions at least with Austria or also with the south of Germany.”
Czech Republic and Slovakia: stay together
Hiking in the High Tatras, relaxing in the spa triangle: Slovaks and Czechs are preparing to stay in their own country this summer. They will have mountains and lakes to themselves, because the entry requirements are strict. International train and bus traffic is still interrupted. Furthermore, everyone entering Slovakia must be in quarantine for 14 days. If you want to go to the Czech Republic, you must have a negative corona test, a so-called PCR test, which is not older than four days.
And you have to have good reasons to be allowed to enter – work, studies, a permanent residence. So far, a weekend in Prague has not counted: last year, the Czech capital reached a record eight million tourists. Both countries took tough measures early on – the number of cases is correspondingly low. Restaurants and hotels are due to open again in the Czech Republic in May. In Slovakia, hotels can initially only be eaten in the room. A new guest may only move in after 24 hours.
Switzerland: Even with wellness
The normalization of economic and social life in Switzerland is being pushed ahead faster than planned. As of May 11, restaurants are allowed to open again, the tables must be two meters apart. Hotels were always allowed to open, but the entry bans meant that 90 percent of them were not worth it. With the opening of the restaurants, most hotels could open again. The wellness areas in hotels have been available again since the end of April.
However, the hoteliers suffer from the entry bans, so far in June and July the occupancy rate is around 25 percent. Five people are allowed to meet outside of families and to do sports together. The mountain railways are still closed and they are expected to open on June 8th. From then on, swimming pools, cinemas and zoos should also open, and groups with more than five people should be allowed. It is not yet clear when the borders for tourists will open again, but Parliament has called for them to be opened soon.
Published today at 6:10 p.m.