Poll results from Travelweek’s COVID-19 Travel Agent Survey show that while many front-line agents are working overtime to keep up with all the C&Cs - counselling and cancellations - they’re also ...
TORONTO — As the world begins to reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more destinations are welcoming back visitors.
Airlines, hotels, resorts and ground handlers have invested heavily in health and safety protocols and are eager to welcome travellers back.
That said, the federal government’s advisory warning Canadians against non-essential travel to destinations outside of Canada is still in place. That’s an issue for getting travel insurance.
Also, under current federal regulations it is mandatory that all Canadians returning to Canada self-isolate under quarantine for 14 days.
Here are all the latest reopening lists, updated as new information comes in, for when your clients are ready to travel…
LATEST UPDATES: July 3 – Saint Lucia, Puerto Vallarta; July 2 – Mazatlán, Barbados; June 25 – St. Vincent and the Grenadines; June 24 – Anguilla, Grenada; June 22 – Cuba; June 18 – Puerto Rico
Anguilla is getting ready to reopen its borders after being declared COVID-19-free by the World Health Organization (WHO). For now Anguilla’s borders remain closed to commercial international traffic through June 30. WHO recently changed Anguilla’s classification status from “sporadic cases” to “no cases” in its situation report on June 18.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA
Antigua & Barbuda welcomed back travellers starting June 4 with the first commercial flight. International and regional travellers are able to travel to Antigua & Barbuda keeping in mind the safety protocols. All arriving passengers must have a mask in their possession for use on disembarkation, which must be worn in public areas throughout their stay in destination. All arriving passengers must complete a health declaration form. Screenings and thermal checks will occur on arrival and passengers may be asked to undergo coronavirus testing on arrival. With regard to airport transfers, up to four members of a family are allowed in a single vehicle while larger commercial passenger transport vehicles are permitted to carry only 50% of the vehicle seating capacity. For more details see https://visitantiguabarbuda.com/travel-advisory/.
Aruba has officially reopened its borders and is once again welcoming inbound travellers in a phased-in approach. Starting June 15 Aruba opened its doors to visitors from Bonaire and Curaçao. Visitors from Canada, Europe and the rest of the Caribbean (with the exception of the D.R. and Haiti), will be welcomed back on July 1. Visitors from the U.S. are welcome back starting July 10. Travellers will be required to follow a new embarkation and disembarkation process to enter the country. In addition to social distancing, Aruba is placing temporary capacity limits on some of the more popular tourist destinations to decrease the flow of visitors at peak times in more heavily trafficked areas, without limiting overall access. Plus, a new safety and hygiene program in partnership with key private sector stakeholders has been developed and launched. The ‘Aruba Health & Happiness Code’, which outlines stringent cleaning and hygiene standards, is mandatory for all tourism-related businesses throughout the country. This protocol will ensure tourism businesses adhere to the strict guidelines for health, sanitation, and social distancing protocols. Each business will go through a checklist of new rules and regulations on how to operate in a COVID-19 world. Upon completion, businesses will be inspected by the Department of Public Health and receive a Code Gold Certification once approved. For more details see Aruba.com.
The Bahamas is reopening its borders and tourism sector on July 1 with the resumption of international travel, including both international and domestic commercial airlines. At airports and seaports, temperature screenings will be conducted for all incoming visitors, and travellers are required to wear a face mask where it is necessary to enforce physical distancing, such as when entering and transiting air and sea terminals, at customs screenings and baggage claim.
A full list of health and safety protocols for accommodations, transportation, excursions, tours, attractions, ferries and restaurants can be found here. These include the discontinuation of buffets at restaurants until further notice, a reduced capacity of 50% on ferries, a maximum number of guests on excursions, tours and attractions, and a limited number of guests in hotel elevators at one time.
Canadians will be the first visitors to be welcomed back to Barbados when the island resumes commercial flights on July 12. Twice-weekly Air Canada service from Toronto Pearson to Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) will resume on July 12. Intra-regional flights on Caribbean Airlines are expected to resume in mid-July.
At the airport, public health protocols are in place including face masks en route to Barbados, physical distancing of three feet as well as temperature checks. Within 72 hours prior to departure for Barbados, all travellers from high-risk countries are strongly encouraged to take a COVID-19 PCR test from an accredited laboratory (ISO, CAP, UKAS or equivalent). High-risk countries are defined as those with more than 10,000 new cases in the prior seven days and community transmission. Travellers from low-risk countries will have up to one week prior to departure for Barbados to take their tests. These countries are defined as those with less than 100 new cases in the prior seven days and not in the Community Transmission category.
There will be a new online Embarkation/Disembarkation card (ED card) with personal health questions relating to COVID-19 symptoms, which travellers will be required to complete. Once all required steps are completed and supporting documents uploaded, travellers will receive a bar code via email. On arrival in Barbados, travellers will be required to present evidence of a negative result of a PCR COVID-19 test and bar code to clear immigration. Travellers without a documented negative PCR test result from an accredited or recognized laboratory will be required to take a test upon arrival, and will be quarantined at their expense, pending the results. The anticipated wait period for the test results is 48 hours. If travellers fail the test they will be placed in isolation where they will receive care from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. For more information go to https://gisbarbados.gov.bb/covid-19/.
Bermuda plans to reopen its borders to air travellers, resuming international commercial air service on July 1. The resumption of cruise ships to the island remains unknown at this time. Prior to departing for Bermuda, travellers should obtain a certified negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure, obtain appropriate health insurance, wear face masks and practice physical distancing when travelling to the departure airport and while at the airport, and complete a screening form and arrival card. Face masks and physical distancing are also required in-flight (to the extent possible) and upon arrival. Upon departure home, the same requirements when arriving in Bermuda apply, plus pre-boarding screening in the form of a temperature check will be conducted if the jurisdiction requires it.
For more information go to https://www.gotobermuda.com/bta/press-release/bermuda-tourism-authority-update.
The Cuba Tourist Board says Cuba’s travel restrictions will begin to lift on July 1. During its temporary closure to international travellers, the Cuban government took various steps to improve all hotels and its tourism infrastructure. Hygiene and sanitary protocols were put in place to ensure the safety of residents and international visitors.
The Dominican Republic will be ready to receive international visitors starting July 1, 2020, when phase 4 of its phased reopening plans commences. In phase 4, most hotels as well as airports, gyms and restaurants will reopen with hygiene, disinfection and social distancing protocols in place. The country’s borders will remain closed until July 1 by land, sea and air. All flights to and from the Dominican Republic will be suspended along with the arrival and departure of all cruises in all ports in the country. For more information go to https://www.godominicanrepublic.com/newsroom/coronavirus/.
Jamaica reopened its borders to international travellers on June 15 with new health and safety protocols in place. All visitors will be screened via thermal temperature checks and symptom observation; those with elevated temperatures will be subject to additional screening and testing, if needed. Any visitor who exhibits symptoms or is ill will be subject to quarantine. Phase 1 of the reopening is set for June 15-30, 2020, during which time a COVID-19 Resilient Corridor, which includes the coastline from Negril to Port Antonio, has been introduced. Only businesses within the corridor that have been trained and cleared for opening are permitted to open to tourists during Phase 1. All ground transportation for tourists must be arranged by a business that has been cleared to open. For a full list of safety protocols for hotels, cruise ships, attractions, beaches and transportation, click here.
Puerto Rico will be ready to welcome back travellers on July 15 as part of its third phase of economic reopening. Hotels throughout the destinations have remained open throughout to island residents. Starting July 15, all commercial spaces such as pools, bars, restaurants and shops within hotels will operate at 50% capacity in order to promote social distancing. Tourist attractions and popular sites are also open during this phase, while tour operators and businesses that rent equipment used for tourist activities are also authorized to resume operations.
The island’s main airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, is using advanced technology to automatically gauge incoming travellers’ temperature and has staff on site to administer a quick health check-up to arriving passengers.
The government of Puerto Rico is working on exception to the mandatory 14-day quarantine that remains in effect, for passengers arriving on or after July 15 who provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Further details will be coming in upcoming days.
Updated July 3:
Pre-travel testing for COVID-19 is now mandatory for all travellers heading to Saint Lucia, effective July 9. Travellers are required to obtain a negative PCR test within seven days of travel unless arriving from designated ‘Travel Bubble’ countries in the Caribbean. Those with proof of a negative PCR test may be exempt from on-island testing and advance through to their COVID-19 certified hotel.
All arriving passengers will be screened, including temperature checks, at the airport. Those with symptoms will be isolated and tested and must remain in quarantine at their hotel or Government Operated Quarantine Facility until test results are obtained. If positive, they will be transferred to a treatment facility until they receive two negative test results.
Anyone arriving without proof of a negative PCR test within seven days will be subject to immediate isolation and testing with possible quarantine or treatment in the event they test positive, at the traveller’s expense.
During Phase One, visitors can stay only at hotels that are COVID-19 certified. Phase Two will commence on Aug. 1. For more see https://www.stlucia.org/en/covid-19/.
ST. MARTIN / SINT-MAARTEN
A phased reopening of Princess Juliana International Airport may be scheduled from July 1. Currently only cargo flights and medical evacuations are allowed to operate. At Grand Case airport, commercial flights between Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthelemy and St. Martin have resumed. All establishments and businesses, bars and restaurants included, are open, however wearing a mask is mandatory. There is free circulation on both sides of the Friendly Island. For the inter-island ferry station, connections between Saint-Martin and Anguilla are suspended until further notice departing from the Ferry Station in Marigot. Connections with St. Barthelemy have resumed. For more information see sintmaartengov.org/coronavirus.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has announced new entry requirements for travellers just in time for Air Canada Rouge flights starting in July. A list of requirements fort phase 1 1ravellers, from July 1-30, 2020, can be found here. In phase 2, which begins on Aug. 1, 2020 and based on the data gained during phase 1 and the current epidemiology of the COVID-19 pandemic, travellers arriving will be subjected to PCR COVID-19 testing, depending on their country of origin. For more details go to http://health.gov.vc/health/index.php/c and https://www.facebook.com/SVGHEALTH/.
TURKS & CAICOS
Turks and Caicos plans to reopen its borders and begin welcoming visitors starting July 22. The destination’s airline partners have confirmed flight service will resume from within the U.S., Canada, and Europe as soon as the destination is ready. Private jet terminals will open on July 22 as well in conjunction with the reopening of Providenciales International Airport. The Grand Turk Cruise Center will remain closed until Aug. 31. The Islands’ hotels and resorts, private villas, restaurants and bars, and tour operators are simultaneously finalizing protocols and gearing up to accept bookings. See www.turksandcaicostourism.com.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
The U.S. Virgin Islands reopened on June 1 to all travellers. Travellers are asked to travel with PPE include masks, wipes, sanitizers, etc. Health screening protocols are in place for all arrivals and symptomatic travellers will be referred to the Dept. of Health. Seating capacity will be 50% in vans and safari vehicles. See https://www.visitusvi.com.
On June 1 Los Cabos launched Phase I of a five-phase approach that applies to all travel sectors and service operators. Upon completion, hotels, timeshares and some travel operators will be able to resume activities. The Los Cabos Tourism Board also confirmed that 62% of the destination’s hotel inventory will resume operations, while airlines including AS, AA, WN and DL have announced their return. Los Cabos is projecting the return of Canadian travellers as part of Phase IV, between October and December 2020. See https://www.visitloscabos.travel/industry/health-safety-standards/.
Mazatlán’s beaches and hotels reopened to tourists on July 1 following 90 days of safety protocols training. During the three-month closure, the destination established and implemented strict safety measures in partnership with Preverisk, an international certification company. AS such, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has awarded Mazatlán with the Safe Travels stamp, recognizing its commitment to travellers’ safety.
All local services that are part of the Responsible Tourism Chain will participate in ‘the new normal’, including the airport, transportation services, hotels, restaurants and tours.
Puerto Vallarta began reopening its beaches and hotels at the end of June, with hotel capacity at a maximum 30%. For the list of current hotels that have reopened go to visitpuertovallarta.com/covid19.php.
While hotels have begun to gradually reopen, the iconic Malecon waterfront promenade has yet to fully open to the public, with only access points to restaurants and shops. Bars remain closed until the destination completes its current phase of the reopening process.
Safety measures at Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport include social distancing practiced by airport workers, thermal video cameras, electronic documentation, and disinfectant mats at all entrances and exits.
Canadian airlines are awaiting approvals from the Canadian government to resume service to Puerto Vallarta. Service is tentatively scheduled to resume with the following airlines: Air Canada (September 2020); Air Transat (fall-winter 2020); Sunwing (fall-winter 2020), and WestJet (fall-winter 2020).
The Quintana Roo Tourism Board, which represents 12 destinations in the Mexican Caribbean including Cancun, Riviera Maya and Playa del Carmen, started its gradual reopening on June 8 with 30% of hotels in operation. By July 1, 75% are expected to be open. Cancun and Cozumel International Airports have introduced several safety protocols, including: permanent temperature checks for all passengers; social distancing measures; the installation of protective screens; sanitization and deep cleaning; and a travel questionnaire to identify risk factors. According to the Tourism Board’s Director, Dario Flota, the Mexican government does not plan to enforce mandatory quarantines for visitors – only for those presenting symptoms and who test positive for COVID-19. For more information go to www.mexicancaribbean.travel.
June 15 marked the official reopening of Riviera Nayarit, with some hotels, restaurants and businesses in the tourism sector welcoming back international travellers. To ensure safe social distancing on property, all reopened businesses are operating at just 30% capacity. Other businesses will gradually reopen in the upcoming weeks. Riviera Nayarit joins the growing list of global destinations to earn the World Travel & Tourism Council’s Safe Travel Stamp, granted to destinations and hotels that have adopted WTTC-approved health and hygiene protocols. All travellers arriving at Puerto Vallarta International Airport (PVR) will undergo temperature screenings via thermal imaging cameras upon arrival and departure. For more information go to https://www.aeropuertosgap.com.mx/en/ and https://www.rivieranayarit.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/English-PROTOCOLO-DE-REFORZAMIENTO-EN-LOS-PUNTOS-DE-ENTRADA-INTERNACIONAL-APTO-PVR.pdf.
On June 15 select European countries began opening their borders to travellers from other European countries. However, while the European Commission has recommended that all Schengen area and EU countries reopen their internal borders to get tourism started again, the final decision is up to each individual country. Also Europe’s external borders, to travellers from outside of Europe, remain closed and will remain closed until at least early July.
In the meantime, a new website from the EU, ‘Re-open EU’, is an interactive tool which aims to support a safe relaunch of travelling and tourism across Europe. The platform provides real-time information on borders and available means of transport and tourism services, as well as health and safety measures and restrictions across all EU Member States (27 countries). It is available in all 24 languages of the EU.