The Future of Travel in the Covid-19 Era

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After being shut down for nearly a year and a half, international travel has started to pick up again, with countries in the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe paving the way. The reopening of borders has been far from straightforward as the world negotiates inequities in Covid-19 containment, vaccine access, and economic recovery. And everything can change in an instant.

For airlines, airports, cruise lines, and hotels, the new normal is increasingly looking like the old normal; While advanced cleaning protocols are (happily) here to stay, social distancing and even mask requirements have started to peel away. A lack of cohesive guidelines from governing authorities mean that protocols are being patched together by individual properties and companies, leaving consumers to wade through fine print and determine what fits their risk thresholds.

If the wealthiest initially set the tone for the future of nonessential travel, the masses are now unleashing a storm of pent-up demand that has caused prices to multiply and availability to evaporate. Compounding those issues are labor shortages in many popular vacation destinations, already slim inventory gobbled up by last year’s cancelations, and a hampered import market that’s making it impossible to get a rental car or wrap up that hotel renovation. Consumers may feel safe traveling again, but it’s going to be a bumpy rebound.

Those of us who remain stuck in place can still daydream. According to the National Institutes of Health, simply planning a trip can spark immeasurable joy—and there’s high hope that the ongoing challenges of availability and border restrictions will iron themselves out by 2022. Getting into an adventurous frame of mind can remind us of the power of travel—not only in the billions of dollars in daily economic activity but also to forge cross-cultural connections and bring us closer to those we love.

By The Numbers

  • $150 million The amount of cash U.S.-based airlines were losing on a daily basis as of March 2021.
  • 1.2 million Average increase of daily travelers passing through TSA checkpoints in June 2021, compared to June 2020. The number still represents roughly a 30% decline from 2019 figures.
  • 67 Percentage of people who would feel confident traveling once vaccinated.

Why It Matters

It’s not just your vacation or business trip that’s on the line. The travel industry customarily accounts for 10% of the global economy, rippling to the remotest corners of the world. Each trip a person takes sets off a domino effect of consumption that directs dollars to airlines, hoteliers, restaurateurs, taxi drivers, artisans, tour guides, and shopkeepers, to name a few. In all, the tourism industry employs 300 million people. Especially in developing countries, these jobs can present pathways out of poverty and opportunities for cultural preservation.

In 2020, the pandemic put a third of all tourism jobs at risk, and airlines around the world said they needed as much as $200 billion in bailouts. By December, the World Tourism Organization had tallied $935 billion in global losses from the tourism standstill, and was estimating that the ripple effects would result in a total economic decline exceeding $2 trillion. Even with international tourism now cautiously reopening, the organization expects that the world will not return to 2019 tourism levels until 2023.

According to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council, every 1% increase in international arrivals adds $7.23 billion to the world’s cumulative gross domestic product. Any improvement in this sector is significant—and it’s just beginning.

Americans, who have easy access to vaccines and command an overwhelming share of the international travel market, are back on the road; two-thirds intend to take a trip in 2021. In the U.S., flight capacity has climbed back to 84% of 2019 levels. The questions are what it will take for the rest of the world to catch up and how the industry must evolve to be flexible at handling future Covid-19 variants so travelers will feel safe and willing to spend.

Grounded for many months, airlines are beefing up their summer schedules—though the number of flights will be a fraction of their pre-pandemic frequency. Airports are still mostly ghost towns (some have even been taken over by wildlife), and international long-distance travel is all but dead. Around the globe, the collapse of the tourist economy has bankrupted hotels, restaurants, bus operators, and car rental agencies—and thrown an estimated 100 million people out of work.

With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows how quickly tourism and business travel will recover, whether we will still fly as much, and what the travel experience will look like once new health security measures are in place. One thing is certain: Until then, there will be many more canceled vacations, business trips, weekend getaways, and family reunions.

Travel will normalize more quickly in safe zones that coped well with COVID-19, such as between South Korea and China, or between Germany and Greece. But in poorer developing countries struggling to manage the pandemic, such as India or Indonesia, any recovery will be painfully slow.

All this will change the structure of future global travel. Many will opt not to move around at all, especially the elderly. Tourists who experiment with new locations in their safe zones or home countries will stick to new habits. Countries with strong pandemic records will deploy them as tourism marketing strategies—discover Taiwan! Much the same will be true for business, where ease of travel and a new sense of common destiny within each safe zone will restructure investment along epidemiological lines.

With the support of IATA and others, the International Civil Aviation Organization developed a global restart plan to keep people safe when traveling. Restart measures will be bearable for those who need to travel, with universal implementation the priority. It will give governments and travelers the confidence that the system has strong biosafety protections. And it should give regulators the confidence to remove or adjust measures in real time as risk levels change and technology advances.

Contributors: Nikki Ekstein

Source: The Future of Travel in the Covid-19 Era – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the tourism industry due to the resulting travel restrictions as well as slump in demand among travelers. The tourism industry has been massively affected by the spread of coronavirus, as many countries have introduced travel restrictions in an attempt to contain its spread. The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimated that global international tourist arrivals might decrease by 58% to 78% in 2020, leading to a potential loss of US$0.9–1.2 trillion in international tourism receipts.

In many of the world’s cities, planned travel went down by 80–90%.Conflicting and unilateral travel restrictions occurred regionally and many tourist attractions around the world, such as museums, amusement parks, and sports venues closed. UNWTO reported a 65% drop in international tourist arrivals in the first six months of 2020. Air passenger travel showed a similar decline. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a report in June 2021 stating that the global economy could lose over US$4 trillion as a result of the pandemic.

References

Where To Find a Green Vacation Rental

Where to Find a Green Vacation Rental

If you’re thinking about booking a vacation before the leaves begin to change colors, then consider doing something a little different this year – try renting a green vacation home! Vacation rentals, instead of a hotel or campground, can let you live like a local in whichever city you choose to visit. No matter whether you’re looking for Southern charm in a city such as Charleston, South Carolina, or midcentury class in Austin, Texas, a green vacation home is just a click away thanks to the internet.

There are plenty of online marketplaces to find vacation rentals, but it takes some commitment to wade through their listings to find eco-friendly rentals. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Below you can find a few sites that cater to those who want extended leisure without being harmful toward the environment.

GetawayGreen

Whether you’re in the mood to hike a mountain, canoe down a river or relax by an ocean, GetawayGreen can get you close to nature without harming it. This community of vacation rentals spans the globe and focuses on sustainability. The site, getawaygreen.com, is exclusive to rentals with environmentally friendly features, and everyone who stays with GetawayGreen helps fight climate change thanks to the company’s green initiatives.

Every month GetawayGreen donates 10 percent of its proceeds to a charity or organization that works to reverse global climate change. If it’s just you and your significant other or an entire group that’s interested in vacationing green, then explore what GetawayGreen has to offer.

Green Vacation Hub

With an expansive list of green hotels, houses and bed-and-breakfasts, Green Vacation Hub is an efficient way to sift through hundreds of rentals with sustainable features. What makes Green Vacation Hub unique are its six areas of evaluation for lodgings: energy efficiency, water efficiency, recycling, air quality, food and fragrance-free. The site offers listings all over the world;  if there is a place you want to visit, you can do so in an environmentally friendly fashion. By visiting greenvacationhub.com, you can see all the site has to offer. It even offers tips to be more Earth-friendly when travelling.

Carolina Mornings

While this site is region-specific, Carolina Mornings offers many vacation rentals for those interested in visiting the colorful Blue Ridge Mountains in the Asheville, North Carolina, area. Carolina Mornings has many places for people to stay across the Asheville area, but distinguishes those that are eco-friendly.

Through its EcoFriendly certification program, rentals are evaluated on several criteria such as low-flow toilets, solar panels, LEDs, composting and recycling. You can see Carolina Morning’s entire list of green property features, and all of its green listings, at carolinamornings.com.

EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com

Since 2005, EnvirontmentallyFriendlyHotels.com has offered green places to stay for travellers and eco tourists. Managed by HealthyStatys.com, the company has thousands of hotels and vacation rentals for people to choose from. It has a search engine that allows you to choose what you’re looking for in a rental, and ranks rentals based on a green leaf rating system.

The company also participates in 1% for the Planet, an alliance committed to donating 1 percent of sales to environmental groups across the globe, and is committed to being an eco-conscious and health-oriented business to help travellers stay green and healthy.

Other options:

Sites like Airbnb and VRBO have thousands of vacation rentals, but you’ll have to search around to find places that are specifically eco-friendly. Sometimes these sites curate lists, such as Airbnb’s “It’s Easy Being Green,” but more often than not, a quick internet search will do the trick.

By: Arthur Murray

Source: Where to Find a Green Vacation Rental – Save On Energy Blog

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Canada Launches C$2,000 Mandatory Hotel Quarantine For All Arrivals

Countries are responding to the threat of new variants of Covid-19 in different ways, but many are introducing the idea of mandatory quarantine in government-designated hotels to ensure that restrictions are met.

Canada is the latest to do so, with prime minister Justin Trudeau announcing Friday that all arrivals into the country would be affected.

Speaking outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Friday, Trudeau announced that starting next week, all international passenger flights must land at the following four airports: Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal.

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Mandatory PCR testing (using a nasal swab) will be introduced at these four Canadian airports for people returning to Canada–this is in addition to the pre-boarding tests that travelers are required to take before they can fly.

Trudeau said, “travelers will then have to wait for up to three days at an approved hotel for their test results, at their own expense, which is expected to be more than $2,000 (US$1,500).”

The government believes this will discourage people from traveling or taking a holiday when they know they must pay for a hotel stay in quarantine upon their return. MORE FOR YOU Why Huawei’s New Update Is Seriously Bad News For Android UsersWhatsApp Users Suddenly Get This Surprise New Boost From FacebookHuawei’s Striking New Billion-Dollar Gamble Targets Apple, Google (And Tesla)

Trudeau added (quoted in The Guardian) that “those with negative test results will then be able to quarantine at home under significantly increased surveillance and enforcement.”

Dr Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer said that the high cost was due to the fact that these facilities had to provide prevention control measures, food, security and PCR testing. She also added that returning passengers had to also take another PCR test ten days after arrival.

Trudeau is also reinforcing measures at Canada’s land borders. “We will also, in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said, “be requiring nonessential travelers to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the US, and we are working to stand up additional testing requirements for land travel.”

The government said that all main carriers have agreed to suspend flights to Mexico and Caribbean destinations until 30 April.

Alex Ledsom

By: Alex Ledsom

I have lived in Provence ever since I exchanged my London city life for the south of France. I have a background in research, business and finance.

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Global News

As travel measures begin to take effect starting Sunday to discourage non-essential travel out of Canada, people are rushing to book flights to try and return home. But as the country is set to implement a mandatory three-day quarantine at a hotel at the expense of returning travellers, it has people worried they could be left with a costly bill. Mike Drolet reports. For more info, please go to https://globalnews.ca/news/7590341/co…​ Subscribe to Global News Channel HERE: http://bit.ly/20fcXDc​ Like Global News on Facebook HERE: http://bit.ly/255GMJQ​ Follow Global News on Twitter HERE: http://bit.ly/1Toz8mt​ Follow Global News on Instagram HERE: https://bit.ly/2QZaZIB#GlobalNews#COVID19#coronavirus

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Bucket List Travel: Top 10 Places In The World And Top 29 In The U.S.

Do you have a travel bucket list? These days, more people are dreaming about travel than actually traveling. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t keep adding places to your travel bucket list. Lonely Planet has just released its second “Ultimate Travel List,” which ranks what its editors describe as the world’s top 500 “most thrilling, memorable downright interesting places on this planet.” Let’s just say that it’s a bucket list to end all bucket lists.

In order to determine the best places around the world, Lonely Planet created a comprehensive list featuring each attraction and sight recommended by its authors in its guidebooks over the years. That was then whittled down to a shortlist, and everyone in the Lonely Planet community was then asked to vote on their top 20. Each entry ended up with a score that was used to create the definitive ranking of the world’s top 500 places, which has been released both online and as a book.

According to Piers Pickard, VP of publishing, Lonely Planet changed the way it calculated its travel bucket list in 2020 (the last Ultimate Travel List came out in 2015). “For this edition, we awarded extra points to destinations and attractions that are managing tourism sustainably,” says Pickard.

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Perfect for a moment when people are craving the outdoors more than ever, this year’s list included a number of natural locations. Nine U.S. national parks make the cut, with three in the top 20 overall list, including Yellowstone National Park (#5), Grand Canyon National Park (#13) and Yosemite National Park (#20).

U.S. cultural and art institutions were also featured, with notable entries such as The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (#105 overall) and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum (#418 overall) ranking among the world’s best places to travel.

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READ MORE: “Revealed: The 11 Most Endangered Places In America”

And the timing really couldn’t be better. “After seven months of staying at home, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about where and how to travel once normality returns,” says Pickard.

Read on for Lonely Planet’s ranking of the top 10 places around the world, followed by the top 29 places in the United States. 

Note: Should you decide to plan a trip anywhere during the coronavirus pandemic, you should check local travel restrictions for the destination you are hoping to visit and consider warnings from the State Department and CDC. Travelers should also consider risk factors like age and existing health issues before going on a trip and take precautions to keep themselves and others safe.

Galapagos Sea Lion lonely plane travel list bucket list travel
Sea lions on the beach in the Galapagos, which was ranked as the second-best place in the world on … [+] getty

Ranked: Top 10 Places Around the World

  1. Petra, Jordan: The red sandstone “lost city” that is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  2. The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador: Destination that changed the course of science and is home to some of the rarest animals on the planet, from ancient tortoises to blue-footed boobies.
  3. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia: Down Under’s most sacred landmark (also known as Ayer’s Rock).
  4. Okavango Delta, Botswana: A sprawling flooded ecosystem in Africa where you can experience the best of slow travel.
  5. Yellowstone National Park, United States: The world’s largest geothermal area; home to geysers and grizzlies.
  6. Lake Bled, Slovenia: A photogenic lake that has been visited over the years by religious pilgrims and royalty.
  7. Iguazú Falls, Argentina/Brazil: A powerful waterfall that is actually made up of 275 waterfalls.
  8. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia: A sprawling series of temples in the jungle that Lonely Planet calls “a monument to human ingenuity.”
  9. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: The world’s biggest salt flat, which becomes a giant mirrored illusion after it rains.
  10. Annapurna Circuit, Nepal: The ultimate trek to picturesque teahouses and high-altitude overlooks.
Grand Prismatic Geyser Yellowstone National Park top ranked United States
Grand Prismatic Geyser in Yellowstone National Park, the top ranked-destination in the United … [+] getty

Ranked: Top 29 Places in the U.S.

  1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho (#5 on the overall list)
  2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (#13 overall)
  3. Yosemite National Park, California (#20 overall)
  4. Redwood National and State Parks, California (#49 overall)
  5. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (#60 overall)
  6. Monument Valley, Arizona (#64 overall)
  7. Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii (#75 overall)
  8. National Museum of African American History & Culture, Washington D.C. (#105 overall)
  9. Denali, Alaska (#121 overall)
  10. French Quarter, New Orleans, (#138 overall)
  11. Death Valley, California (#149 overall)
  12. Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando (#188 overall)
  13. Empire State Building, New York City (#200 overall)
  14. Mesa Verde, Colorado (#220 overall)
  15. Taos Pueblo, New Mexico (#233 overall)
  16. The Strip, Las Vegas (#236 overall)
  17. The National Mall, Washington D.C. (#287 overall)
  18. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City (#295 overall)
  19. National Sept. 11 Memorial & Museum, New York City (#316 overall)
  20. Pike Place, Seattle (#343 overall)
  21. Independence National Historic Park, Philadelphia (#376 overall)
  22. Statue of Liberty & Staten Island, New York (#387 overall)
  23. Acadia National Park, Maine (#393 overall)
  24. Art Institute of Chicago (#407 overall)
  25. Walt Disney World, Orlando (#410 overall)
  26. Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson (#418 overall)
  27. Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles (#420 overall)
  28. Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts (#430 overall)
  29. Everglades, Florida (#481 overall)

READ MORE:

• “TikTok Famous Flight Attendant Reveals 13 Airline And Hotel Hacks You Need To Know”

• “50 Best Trips For Solo Female Travel (And Why Now Is The Time To Go)”

•  “Escape From America: 5 Cheapest Places To Move If You Want To Leave The U.S.”

• “Want To Escape From America? 12 Countries Where You Can Buy Citizenship (And A Second Passport)” Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Laura Begley Bloom

Laura Begley Bloom

I’m a travel and lifestyle authority and a content strategist who works with brands to create powerful storytelling. In this column, “Transformative Travel,” I look at how travel can change women’s lives. I profile the doers and the disrupters and cover the trends and the destinations that appeal to women today. I have been writing about travel since the early days of my career, when I started off as a honeymoon editor, even though — ironically — I was single at the time. Since then, I have written for a number of publications, including Food & Wine, Wallpaper and The New York Times. I have been the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel, which was named the top online travel magazine under my leadership. Before that, I was deputy editor of Travel & Leisure. Throughout my career, I have appeared regularly on television, including Good Morning America and NBC Today. Journalism is part of my heritage: My great great grandfather was a Civil War correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Follow me on Twitter (@laurabegley) and Instagram (@laurabegleybloom).

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From Bora Bora to Las Vegas, we count down Top 10 Vacations In The World. Subscribe to MindChop by clicking here: http://bit.ly/YRz4G9 Follow us on twitter here: https://twitter.com/TheMindChop Music Notes: Two Step – Huma Huma https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rsz_1…

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Hospital Beds Filling, Bars Closing With Nearly All Threshold

Countries across Europe are imposing new restrictions as the second wave of coronavirus infections that’s swept across the region since summer-time has recently taken a turn for the worse—seeping into older, more vulnerable populations and driving a surge in hospitalizations.

Key Facts

All but three European countries—Cyprus, Finland and Norway—have reached the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold, which designates countries reporting above 20 cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average at high risk.

The ECDC’s most recent report, published last Thursday, also noted the rising death rate in Europe and identified sustained case increases in 27 countries, many of which are reporting more new infections than in the spring (though better detection methods play a factor). 

Among the countries faring the worst, the Czech Republic, reporting 22,179 cases and 158 deaths in the past week, enacted a second state of emergency Monday, while Madrid has entered a partial lockdown, barring non-essential travel to and from the city, as Spain reports nearly 10,000 new cases per day. 

France’s capital, which moved into a state of “maximum alert” on Monday as 30% of emergency beds in hospitals filled, leading to the closure of Paris bars and cafés, may be on the verge of tougher restrictions as the number of Covid-19 patients in emergency beds jumped to 40% on Tuesday. 

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Brussels, which has overtaken Paris and trails only Madrid in terms of infections per capita among Europe’s major cities, also announced it is shutting down bars and cafés in the city for a month on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, a slew of other countries, including Ireland and Scotland, are mulling tough new restrictions.

Key Background 

While France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the U.K. are reporting higher numbers of new cases on average than they were during the peak of their spring outbreaks, the crisis isn’t as severe as it was through March and April. However, European authorities are concerned that rising infections, which have begun to spill into older populations, could soon bring hospitals back to the brink.

Crucial Quote 

“The enemy hasn’t been defeated yet,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last weekend, calling on Italians to be careful as to avoid a return to stricter pandemic measures. Italy, once the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, was the first country in the world to activate a nationwide lockdown in March.

Further Reading 

“British universities re-open with students locked-down and forced to care for infected classmates” (The New York Times) 

“As Second Covid-19 Wave Rolls Through Europe, Deaths and Hospitalizations Rise” (The Wall Street Journal)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus/Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Jemima McEvoy

I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes.

 Jemima McEvoy

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There are mounting concerns the pandemic will cause a global recession. It has been another torrid day on the markets. Stocks plunged around the world, despite a coordinated effort by central banks to protect growth and jobs. Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker begins our coverage with a look at the situation around Europe. –

Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe – Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish – Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera – Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/ #AlJazeeraEnglish #Coronavirus #Europe

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New Europe Travel Bans: Covid Red Lists, Here’s What To Know

As Covid creeps up again across Europe, many countries are reimposing travel restrictions on neighbours.

As this happens, the map of Europe is being color-coded red, green and yellow.

Travelers on high-risk red lists are being shut out, either with total travel bans or quarantines. Those on green lists meantime have a green light to travel.

But n a sign of the times, Norway for example no longer ranks any zones as green in Europe or beyond.

Hungary First In EU To Reinstate Blanket Ban Foreigners

Police control EU travelers at Hungarian borders as Hungary closes to foreigners Covid
Police officers control car drivers at the Hungarian-Slovakian border on September 3, after Hungary … [+] AFP via Getty Images

The most spectacular and controversial return to shutdown EU borders came with Hungary’s decision to add all countries to its red list from September 1.

Barely two months after reopening to Schengen travelers, it’s defying the bloc’s recommendations on internal borders and travel freedoms. The measures will stay in place at least until October 1. Recommended For You

Green Lists Shrinking, Red Growing

Links to government restrictions are included in the country headings. See useful details on the Reopen Europe website too.

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BELGIUM

Man at Brussels airport in Belgium with mask as Covid Travel Bans return to Europe
“Travelling within Europe: pay attention to the colour code of your destination,” urges the Belgium … [+] AFP via Getty Images

Belgium in early August added many parts of Romania, France and Spain to its red list. That means a total ban on non-essential travel to those places. Travelers returning must both quarantine and test on return.

  • The current red list includes Andorra, Croatia, Denmark, Hungary, Romania, many parts of Spain and France, and Scotland’s Aberdeen.

CYPRUS

  • Countries are divided in 3 categories: A (no restrictions), B (some), and C (no entry other than for citizens/residents).
  • Banned C list countries include France, Luxembourg, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro.
  • Germany, Norway, Hungary and Slovenia are among the A listers.
  • B countries must show a Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours. They include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.K.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech Republics Green Red covid risk zones and destinations for travel in Europe
The same quarantine rule applies to Czech citizens returning from the red countries Czech Republic Ministry of Health

DENMARK

Denmarks yellow blue green Covid map Europe for travel bans
The Danish government’s health map of the EU, Schengen zone and the U.K. indicates “open” and … [+] Danish Police/Statens Serum Institut

FINLAND

Finland covid travel restrictions green red yellow lists for Europeans and others
Residents from mixed red-green countries face no travel restrictions either to Finland. They include … [+] Finnish Border Guard

Finland too has a red, green, yellow system, updated on August 24.

  • Italy, Hungary and Slovenia are currently among the handful of welcome green countries.
  • Most other EU/Schengen countries and the U.K. fall on the yellow list, allowing onlyessential travelers including workers to visit.
  • Family members, parents, siblings, spouses and couples are among the exceptions.

HUNGARY

A boy on scooter looks on as Hungarian police officers control drivers at border Europe
Exemptions from Hungary’s wide-reaching new travel restrictions include freight transport, … [+] AFP via Getty Images
  • Almost all foreign tourists are now on Hungary’s Red List for a month.
  • The government advises its citizens against travel to some 40 red list countries in Europe and overseas.
  • Those who do must self-quarantine for 14 days, or until they can show two negative tests taken with a two day interval.
  • Exemptions include transit passengers and Visgrad Group travelers (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia) with a negative Covid test taken within five days.

IRELAND

Men in masks by holiday advertisement Ireland no non-essential overseas travel Europe
Ireland has a Green List for travel, and a not green list, which it doesn’t officially call a red … [+] PA Images via Getty Images
  • The Green List just shrunk, even for Europeans. As of August 31, “normal precautions” and a green “security status rating” says the government, applies only to Estonia, Finland, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovakia.
  • With the EU Covid seesaw, this could change at any time. The list is constantly under review.

LATVIA

Latvias red list was super-sized in past days.

  • The list from the Latvian Centre for Disease Prevention and Controlshows red and yellow countries, with infections above the required threshold of 25 cases per 100,000.
  • Some 25 European red list countries include Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. They are classified as a “Serious threat to public health”.
  • Even those who transit these countries must quarantine on return. The state “discourages” travel to those places.

LITHUANIA

Map of red list countries in Europe EU and world travel bans restrictions in Lithuania
A map of “red painted” countries shows on Lithuania’s KORONA STOP government website shows how the … [+] Lithuanian Government
  • The red list of countries grew on August 31, with travelers from Belarus, Italy, Slovenia and Slovakia now also facing mandatory self-isolation on arrival.
  • Norway, Lithuania, Estonia, Finland, Hungary and Latvia are the only EU/Schengen countries on the green list, due to less than 16 cases/100,000 in the last 14 days. face no quarantine requirement.

NETHERLANDS

Travelers with face masks at the Schiphol airport in the Netherlands Europe during Covid
Given red and green lists are based on relative Covid risk levels, countries rated Yellow for travel … [+] SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Dutch government zones countries for Covid as Yellow (OK) and Orange (not ok, quarantine required). “Foreign travellers from countries where the health risks are similar to or lower than in the Netherlands can enter for tourism,” it says.

  • Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Romania , Spain, Monaco and various departments in France are on the orange list.

NORWAY

Norwegian Health map of EU Europe Covid red green yellow countries
The Norwegian Institute Of Public Health map shows there are no longer any green, totally safe Covid … [+] Norwegian Institute Of Public Health

Norway has a red, green, yellow Covid map. Currently no country is marked as a restriction-free green zone. Many more Europeans were added to the “high transmission” risk red list on August 29.

  • Red List: 10-day quarantine for travelers from France, Switzerland and Sweden since August 11. Now applies to most EU/Schengen arrivals–from Portugal to Poland–and to the U.K. The few exceptions include Hungary, Slovakia, Italy and Norway.
  • Yellow list countries are exempt from quarantine, but the Norwegian Institute of Public Health still classifies them as “increased risk”.
  • The government currently advises against all overseas travel.
Norwegian people sit by lake in Oslo amid Covid EU  travel bans no travel in Europe
With Norway adding nearly all EU and Schengen countries to its red list – some 20 in all – … [+] AFP via Getty Images

SLOVENIA

Slovenia too has a color-coded system with green, yellow and red lists.

  • Those in the green category like Canada and Australia can enter restriction-free.
  • Red list countries with more than 40 Covid cases per 100,000 must quarantine for 14 days.
  • The yellow list applies mostly to EU/Schengen citizens, who face no quarantine–provided they are not coming from a red destination.
Temperature control for Covid in Slovenia amid new Europe virus wave and travel bans
Slovenia’s updated red list includes several Europeans – Albania, Andorra, Belgium, Croatia, … [+] AFP via Getty Images

U.K.

The U.K. red list comes in the form of quarantine for a growing number of countries. The Czech Republic and Switzerland are among the latest Europeans to join others like France, Croatia and Austria who no longer enjoy a quarantine-free travel corridor with England.

Showing the nation’s quarantine policy disarray, Scotlandand Wales are imposing quarantine on Greece and Portugal–both of which remain on England and Ireland’s corridor lists.

Further Reading: More Covid Tests, No Travel Bans: EU Urges Europe To Make Common Rules

empty tables on Greek island amid Covid resurgence and new wave of travel bans EU Europe
The empty tables on Meis Island in Greece say it all about the new wave of Covid travel bans and … [+] Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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Tamara Thiessen

Tamara Thiessen

I have three decades of experience as a journalist, foreign correspondent and travel writer-photographer. Working for print, digital and radio outlets on four continents, I am also a veteran hotel industry reporter and author of travel guides and cultural histories to Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Borneo. Very often on the road between my Paris and Australian bases, I write for Forbes with a globetrotters perspective and newsy edge on travel, culture, hotels, art and architecture. My passion is capturing the distinctive people, places and events I encounter along the way, both in words and pictures. I hold a degree in Professional Writing from Canberra University, an MA in European Journalism from the Université Robert Schuman Strasbourg, and am a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. A love for my wild home-island of Tasmania fuels my commitment to sustainable travel and conservation.

Can the Reemergence of European Travel Save Us From The Worst of the Recession?

Europe is on the verge of an economic crisis that hasn’t been seen for almost a century if forecasts from the EU’s Commission prove correct. 

The anticipated decline of economic activity looks set to reach 7.5 percent due to the widespread chaos caused by COVID-19. Figures are set to fall further should the second wave of infections occur before the pandemic subsides. 

Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, called the coming recession “a shock without precedent since the Great Depression”.

However, The arrival of news that the reemergence of international travel could resume by as early as July 1st, sent European stocks rebounding by as much as 7 percent. Elsewhere, shares in TUI rose by as much as 35 percent, while British Airways’ owners jumped 20 percent. 

As a continent that’s built on a vibrant travel and tourism industry, could the reopening of borders help to save Europe from the worst of the inevitable global recession? 

Quantifying the value of European tourism.

Europe is the continent that gains the most money from tourism across the world. With over 600 million tourists that were initially forecast to arrive on the continent in 2020, it’s perhaps no surprise that Spain’s foreign minister is battling to achieve a common EU policy on cross-border movement as the summer months arrive. 

Spain has announced that tourists arriving from July 1st will be free to enjoy the country without facing enforced quarantine measures. Despite being something of a risky move considering the voracity of COVID-19 and the devastation it’s caused in the national capital of Madrid, Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez has announced his desire that Spain opens reciprocal “safe corridors” between European countries that minimise the risk of Coronavirus flare-ups. 

In 2019, tourism brought over EUR 9.4 billion to Spain – amounting to over 12 percent of the nation’s GDP. The importance of establishing an avenue for tourists to enjoy the country during the peak summer months of 2020 could be significant in saving the domestic economy from turmoil and providing a platform to grow from. 

The announcement that Spain was planning to salvage its lucrative tourism season was leapt upon by global airlines, with Ryanair announcing that it was intending to run flights at up to 40 percent of its usual schedule in order to transport tourists to Spain and other European destinations. 

Could a galvanised tourism industry bring European investment opportunities?

The reemergence of tourism in Europe, if successful, could bring levels of investment opportunities that had seemed long dead and buried during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. 

Global work-from-home schemes and furlough initiatives have left a significant number of employees worldwide with an income that they’ve been unable to spend in social scenarios. While it’s reasonable to expect some citizens to be cautious about flying in confined spaces following months of lockdowns, it’s fair to expect huge volumes of tourism should their safety be guaranteed. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Growing confidence in European tourism has led to a 24 percent boost to the share price of Melia Hotels, Spain’s largest hotel operator, while International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company of Iberia Air and Vueling saw price increases of 10 percent. 

To assess the respective value of European tourism markets and whether they’re likely to yield respectable returns, it’s important to come to terms with the risks associated

While a vibrant return to tourism would benefit European markets ahead of other continents, it’s important to remember the severity of Coronavirus in its spread across the popular summer tourism destinations and cities. With Spain, Italy and the UK collectively suffering from the worst of outbreaks, a dash to accommodate tourism represents a huge risk that may never be taken. 

The coming months will likely see further market optimism as more European nations declare their intentions for reviving their tourism industry in some form, ready for the hugely lucrative summer months, and investors could benefit from healthy returns should hotels and airlines successfully begin to accommodate guests from July onwards. 

Could tourism save Europe from a deep recession?

It’s clear that the coming months and years will send Europe into a recession of unprecedented proportions, with much of the world following suit. The full scale of devastation will be dictated by consumer spending and governmental initiatives to stage a recovery. 

Nations have turned their attentions towards opening their respective doors in time for the peak tourism season. If consumers are confident enough in their safety, and there are no further outbreaks, the spending of money on summer holidays will be a significant help in softening the initial impact of significant losses in productivity across the continent. https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The loss of tourism across Europe in the summer of 2020 will be a huge blow to the wealth of a continent that largely hinges on welcoming huge numbers of visitors from around the world. While it’s clear that a vibrant peak holidaying season won’t prevent a significant recession, it will go some way in boosting the GDP of hard-hit countries and restore investor confidence in an industry that was reportedly facing widespread cutbacks owing to months of inactivity due to lockdown measures. 

The future is undoubtedly difficult for a lot of international markets, and talks of a return to tourism could be dangerously premature, but ultimately travel could help to cushion the impact of an unprecedented economic downturn.

Dmytro Spilka

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer CEO and Founder of Solvid and Pridicto

Vanlife Safety Tips For Solo Female Travelers

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Four wheels, the open road and a place to crash every single night beneath the stars—that’s the dream of vanlife. Though adventurous pavement pounders have been camping in vans for decades, an explosion of ultra-modern vans equipped with everything needed to live and work remotely has made vanlife more popular than ever.

Outdoor adventure photographer Christian Schaffer should know. For more than two years, she’s been traveling the country in a customized Dodge Ram ProMaster van in order to be closer to her work. But life as a solo, female traveler has more obstacles than flat tires and frugal storage space. To find out how female travelers can handle the dangers associated with solo travel and living out of a vehicle, I sat down with Schaffer to discuss the reality of #vanlife and the systems she’s developed to stay safe in the wild.

Joe Sills: How long have you been living on the road?

Christian Schaffer: I’ve been living on the road since May 2018.

Joe Sills: Vanlife isn’t a vacation for you, it’s a permanent lifestyle. What went into your decision to live vanlife full-time?

Christian Schaffer: My road to vanlife began as an experiment. I spent the summer of 2018 living out of my Nissan Xterra SUV—just to see if I could handle living on the road. Summer turned into a full year, and that’s when I decided to invest in a vehicle that would allow me to continue living on the road, but with a few more creature comforts.

I’m a minimalist in a lot of ways, and one thing I really appreciate about this lifestyle is the simplicity of owning less, and making space for new experiences. I also make a full-time income as an outdoor adventure photographer, and living on the road allows me the freedom to base around the parks and beautiful places I need to be for photo assignments.

Joe Sills: Are there any areas that you specifically find yourself camping in more often than others?

Christian Schaffer: I tend to camp on Bureau of Land Management & National Forest land most often—mainly so I am near trailheads and can get an early start on sunrise hikes. I avoid cities whenever possible—but there are times when I need to do laundry, shop for groceries, have a steady stream of WiFi, etc. In those cases, a few options are Wal-Mart parking lots, rest areas, paid campgrounds, or residential neighborhoods. I think wherever you park, it’s important to be respectful and mindful of the people in that community and how your presence affects them. Especially now that we’re in pandemic times.

Joe Sills: What resources can people use to find campsites?

Christian Schaffer: Two free resources I’ve found helpful are freecampsites.net and the app iOverlander.

Joe Sills: What are some signs that solo, female travelers should watch out for to spot possible trouble?

Christian Schaffer: Great question. I think a level of awareness at all times is your biggest asset as a solo female traveler. Situations can change quickly—and like most things in life—anything is possible. That said, there are a few red flags I’ve learned to look out for.

First, any sign of illegal drug use/commerce or extreme intoxication. This is unfortunately pretty common in urban areas, and I’ve had to relocate more than once because of it. Second, avoid high theft areas when possible. Some places will have signs to alert you, and in other instances it will be clear enough. I recently had to relocate from a campsite because I showed up and there were piles of glass from smashed car windows in three different spots. Finally, have a healthy suspicion of anyone who approaches you and asks intrusive questions that could potentially make you a target. Most people have good intentions, but not always.

Joe Sills: How do you react when you see one of those signs?

Christian Schaffer: For the most part, I just remove myself from those situations. That’s one major benefit of living in a vehicle—if you have creepy neighbors you can just drive away!

Learn more Vanlife safety tips in Schaffer’s video, below:

Joe Sills: You talk pretty seriously about weapons and scenario visualizations in your YouTube video. Why is it important to have a plan?

Christian Schaffer: For me personally, it really helps to visualize and think through those scenarios. Not only does it prepare me for that particular circumstance, it also gets me thinking of potential outcomes in real time whenever I do feel threatened or unsafe. I like to think of personal defense the same way I think of avalanche safety — you can carry all the fancy gear with you into the mountains but if an avalanche hits — do you know how to use that gear? Because someone’s life might depend on it.

Joe Sills: In general, do you feel safe living life on the road?

Christian Schaffer: Yes, absolutely. There are risks and uncertainties for sure, but at this point in my journey, I don’t feel any less safe living in a vehicle than I would in an apartment or cabin in the woods. It’s been an overwhelmingly positive experience and I would recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing (or even just trying out) this way of life.

You can follow Schaffer’s adventures on the road on Instagram @ChristianSchaffer, on YouTube or on TikTok.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m an explorer, adventurer and freelance travel writer who kicked off my career with a solo, cross-country road trip of America in a tent. I’ve charbroiled gas station burritos over an open fire in Utah and cooked with a Swedish countess in a medieval castle. I’ve shared the table of a Chinese billionaire in a subterranean research facility and sumitted the ruins of Vlad Dracula’s mountain fortress in Romania. I bring true tales of travel and adventure to light as the host of The Get Lost Podcast. In addition to Forbes, my work has appeared in publications that include National Geographic, Lonely Planet, Travel Channel and Fodor’s Travel. Follow me on Instagram for updates @joesills or visit my blog, Souled Outside.

Source: Forbes

bevtraders-2

In A Twist On Loyalty Programs, Emirates Is Promising Travelers A Free Funeral If Infected With Covid19

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Last year, advertising spending in the insurance industry reached $7 billion. This is an incredible figure as it accounts for about 2.7% of all U.S. advertising spending, which is $240 billion. Overall, the acquisition cost is just about $20 per each person in the U.S. or about $60 for the typical insurance-purchasing single person, couple or family. The ROI on lifetime customer is exponential.

How can they afford such exorbitant ad outlays? Firstly, insurance companies have plenty of cash. And secondly, because it’s a mature category, insurers must steal share from each other to grow. Insurance isn’t a fun product – Millennials aren’t arguing whether Allstate or Progressive is cooler, the way they would for a Nike or an Adidas. It’s also a low-involvement product, one that is continually paid for without much consideration by the consumer. As long as nothing goes wrong retention rates are stay high without switching.

In 2000 GEICO broke with the insurance advertising tradition and introduced a zany campaign which the staid and conservative insurance industry had never seen before – filled with pigs, cavemen, googly eyes and, of course, a little green lizard that was first conceived on the back of a napkin. GEICO’s gambit of injecting humor into the sleepy and conservative category worked, propelling the insurer to yearly market-share gains and forcing competitors to step up their game. Insurer after insurer is now hitting the airwaves with character-driven campaigns, from “Mayhem,” to “Flo,” to “Professor Burke,” to “Emu and Stakeouts.” Some center their campaigns on celebrities, such as football players like Aaron Rodgers or Payton Manning.

The goal is to grab the attention of consumers who would rather not think about, or even care about, insurance, certainly not at age 25 or 30. Therefore, there is this enormous overlap on the advertising, making brands indistinguishable. And the zany humor, or the irrelevant celebrities, make the ads trivial. That is why the insurance companies have to advertise – all the time. They must buy share of mind to engage.

Contrast that consumer indifference with Emirates Airlines’ foray into the insurance industry, offering COVID-19 insurance. Airlines are trying all sorts of things – from  leaving middle seats empty, to requiring everyone to wear masks, to health checks at terminals – in order to instill confidence in passengers who may be leery of air travel amid the global pandemic.

Emirates’ insurance for travelers stipulates that if one of its passengers is diagnosed with COVID-19 during their journey, the Dubai-based airline will cover their medical expenses, up to €150,000 (about $176,000). It will pay €100 ($118) per day for quarantine costs – such as a hotel room – for up to two weeks.

And if the worst happens, Emirates will offer €1,500 (about $1,765) for a passenger’s funeral. The insurance is automatic with ticketing, effective immediately, and carries no fees for travelers.

It’s an interesting idea. It delivers share of mind on steroids. It demonstrates the integrity of the brand to the public, and it shows they have empathy for their customers and understand the current environment.

The premise of insurance for medical bills or quarantine is brave. It’s bold and cuts to the heart of the reluctance to travel. It doesn’t skirt the emotions surrounding COVID-19 but tackle them head on. However, the  fact that the  insurance includes a death coverage could be problematic. It could encourage the kind of mental imagery that an airline normally wouldn’t want associated with its brand.

This kind of insurance is simply untried and carries the risk of reputational damage if it’s not done well. There’s no precedent where a brand offers burial services as an incentive. However, I applaud Emirate for assuming the risk. When airlines are flying planes in 20-30% capacity and even cancel entirely to some airports, the strategy may be well timed. Risky times call for risky measures. The shock value of free funeral offer might be a clever strategy to prompt travelers start flying again, or at least think about it.

And yeah, it’s one campaign that nobody will complain if it’s underdelivers on its promises.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

The author is CEO of Avidan Strategies, a consultancy that specializes in advising marketers about optimizing agency practices. They help marketers improve agency relationships and manage agency search and RFPs. Avi Dan was board member at two top global agencies and  held leadership positions at WPP, Publicis, Saatchi, Havas and Y&R, partnering with iconic brands for P&G, Kraft, Bayer, GM, Pfizer, Mars, The Wall Street Journal, Sprint, Samsung, Ally and Coca-Cola. A native of Israel, Avi is a former army officer, and a Columbia MBA. He can be reached at avi@avidanstrategies.com

Source: https://www.forbes.com

bevtraders-2

France Tourism: The $20 Billion Fight To Save Industry Suffering From Travel Bans

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To find a reason for optimism about the summer tourist season that starts next week in France, just pay a visit to the Maison D’Orride in the country’s southwest province of Béarn.

Didier and Marina Monteil fled Paris several years ago to buy a stone farmhouse where director Roger Vadim and his then-wife Jane Fonda once filmed “La Curée” (“The Game is Over”) in the 1960s. After the couple painstakingly transformed it into a thriving Bed & Breakfast, it gained a national reputation thanks to the vintage décor of its rooms and traditional dinners such as a hearty daube stew and pintade.

When the global pandemic gutted their spring business, the couple used the time to renovate a new guest room. Financial support from the national and local governments softened the economic blow. And with the summer approaching, Didier Monteil cautiously notes that his reservations for July and August are almost fully booked.

D’Orride is no doubt even more attractive these days thanks to its setting in a rural region barely impacted by the coronavirus. But Monteil is also pleased with the national campaign that lies at the center of efforts to resuscitate the nation’s tourism industry: Getting the French to explore France. Following cancellations by English and American guests, he said the rooms have been taken primarily by his fellow countrymen, along with Belgians and Germans.

Those guests will still be asked to follow some new rules such as using hand gel before entering rooms and maintaining distances with other families. He is slightly concerned that tourists circulating throughout France and arriving from outside its borders could provoke the dreaded second wave.

Beyond that, he knows many of his colleagues in the tourism industry have yet to see bookings resume. And so Monteil is uncertain if the country is really on the road to economic recovery or if an even greater shock is coming.

“We do not have much to complain about ourselves,” he said. “But there may be a wave of unemployment in the coming months and a social crisis which will undoubtedly be more serious than the health crisis.”

A Tourism ‘Marshall Plan’

This is the precipice on which France finds itself as the school-year finished last week. July 6 marks the start of the summer vacation season. While the pandemic brought the global tourism industry to a grinding halt, that seismic event hit France particularly hard. Now, as the pandemic recedes in much of Europe, the country that loves to boast about being the most visited nation is serving as a microcosm for how the tourism industry hopes to recover and reinvent itself.

France’s tourism industry is a vast political and economic machine that stretches from the heights of icons like the Eiffel Tower down into the tiniest corners of villages and the countryside where entire local economies depend on the annual flux of tourists to support artisans, restaurants, and recreational businesses. French governments spend vast sums every year restoring historic sites and promoting their destinations through campaigns designed by local tourism boards to attract those critical visitors.

To understand just deeply coronavirus turned those plans upside down, consider that France welcomed 89.4 million tourists in 2018. The country had set a target of 100 million international tourists for 2020, a goal that has been obliterated.

With those ambitious plans gutted, survival is now the theme. To resuscitate this sector, the French government announced a “Marshall Plan” on May 14 with €18 billion ($20.3 billion) in support. “Tourism faces the worst ordeal in modern history,” said then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe at a press conference. “Its rescue is a national priority.”

The package includes a mix of direct financial support, loan guarantees, extended unemployment benefits, and tax benefits to keep tourism companies afloat. At the regional and local levels, other governments are also rolling out additional financial benefit packages.

The national government also added some incentives for visitors to spend money, such as expanding the program under which employees receive vouchers to spend at restaurants. To make travelers feel safe, the government has developed a series of health standards for hotels and restaurants. And cancellation policies are encouraged to be generous, to lower the risk of booking a trip.

But at the heart of this rescue attempt is a campaign to get the French traveling within their own country. While the country is opening its borders again to many European nations, the expectations remain low for the number of international visitors this summer. Instead, a nationwide publicity campaign dubbed, “Cet été, je visite la France” (This summer, I visit France) launched last month.

The goal is to do whatever it takes to get the French out of their homes and going somewhere.

“The 9 million who usually go abroad, they’re going to rediscover France,” said Stéphane Villain, president of ADN Tourism, an association of French tourism boards that created a new interactive map to make it easier for travelers to know what destinations have reopened.

The call to arms envisages one supreme goal. France was number one in tourism before the pandemic. When this crisis finally ends, it wants to still claim that top spot. But in doing so, the nation’s tourism industry is trying to take this moment to transform itself by emphasizing so-called “slow travel,” and local journeys that reduce environmental impact and prepare the industry for a world where such pandemics could become increasingly common.

Pascale Fontenel-Personne, a National Assembly representative from Sarthe who co-chairs the legislature’s tourism advisory committee, said it’s critical to assume the world won’t have a vaccine for a long time. That means reshaping an industry to live in a world very different than before in a way that can still be profitable.

“Tourism is essential for the economy in France,” said “That economy has been based on tourism in large masses and many have focused on foreign visitors. We must build a new foundation. The tourism of proximity is the future.”

“This summer I visit…”

With the new national strategy defined, a jumble of city, department, and regional tourism boards have launched energetic publicity campaigns with variations on the themes of local, slow, and safe. The city of Lille, which bills itself as the leader in short stays and day trips, has created a sanitation label awarded to local businesses that follow strict rules related to hygiene.

The Saône-et-Loire Department, located east of Paris in the Burgundy region, is running ads on a popular evening French news and comedy program called Quotidien. The department is also placing posters in the Paris subway and engaging a PR agency to convince reporters to come to the area to write reviews.

“Our ambition?” the department wrote in a strategy document for its local tourism business. “Bring in as many tourists as possible (families, seniors, athletes, cycling enthusiasts, gourmets …), who are potential future residents of Saône-et-Loire, by making the best of a bad situation with an original communication campaign.”

The Tarn Department, located east of Toulouse, has developed a series of discounts with local inns and restaurants. Périgord, in the Dordogne region, is known as a capital of foie gras and has launched a #cetetejevisiteleperigord campaign while advising its local businesses to emphasize outdoor activities because tourists want to “travel in safety and avoid large crowds.”

In Haute Garonne, the tourism board is even more narrowly focused on getting local residents to get out and explore their department. “Get away and stay in Haute Garonne” is the rallying cry. A support package of €3.5 million ($3.95 million) includes a gift card (“Carnet de voyages en Haute-Garonne”) for local residents who can be reimbursed as much as €31 if they visit at least 3 of its 270 tourism partners, including restaurants, hotels, and attractions.

On the western edge of France, the Charente and the Charente-Maritime Departments are working together to attract visitors. This is the region where the ADN’s Villain is from and it boasts such destinations as the coastal city of La Rochelle, the city of Angouleme which is France’s comic book capital, and Cognac.

Villain said the departments’ strategy includes an expanded “chèques vacances” program. Typically, these are checks given by corporations to employees to spend on vacations. The Charente departments will offer any visitor a €100 rebate on the money they spend at participating restaurants, inns, or attractions if they stay a minimum of two nights.

The region also launched a new mobile website to help visitors navigate the region’s offerings more efficiently. And it is picking up the theme of the great outdoors, in particular by emphasizing its extensive biking routes. Villain said tourists who come on bikes tend to stay longer and spend more money each day on local businesses.

“The people are going to consume France differently,” Villain said. “The world needs slow tourism.”

The Occitanie Region covers a territory that stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to Gascony and includes the Pyrenées Mountains, Toulouse, Montpellier, Carcassonne, and its famed fortress, and the Cevennes. As part of an €80 million financial support package, the regional government’s promotional campaign (Cet été, je visite ici en Occitanie!) includes a kind of crowdfunding campaign to “save our local commerces.” Travelers can select from a host of promotional deals, from camping to yoga classes. When they pay in advance, the region finds sponsors to chip in some extra money for the businesses.

The region has also drastically reduced regional train fares. Occitanie President Carole Delga has been lobbying the private companies that manage French highways to eliminate their tolls this summer. And the region has created its own discount card, dubbed “Occ’Ygène”, that will offer savings to everyone, but also includes additional support for lower-income families.

Vincent Garel, president of Occitanie’s regional tourism committee, said the government can’t undo all of the economic damage done by the coronavirus. But it is firmly committed to helping rebuild.

“Since March, this industry went to zero and everything was closed,” Garel said. “They can’t make that up. And this summer, there will still be fewer tourists. But we need to prepare for the future. There are new clients to find and we must help them take their vacations.”

Unfortunately, all of that promotion and aid wasn’t enough to convince Renée Jacobs and her partner, Wendy Hicks, to reopen their B&B this season. Three years ago, Jacobs, an internationally renowned photographer of female nudes, and Hicks, who is also her business partner, left behind the Los Angeles area and bought a house in Haut-Languedoc Regional Park. Over the last couple of years, the Maison des Rêves has hosted private photography workshops in the spring and fall. The luxury Moroccan décor inside made it popular during the summer months for tourists.

But the couple has had to postpone one workshop, they had some exhibitions canceled, and had booking cancellations. Fortunately, they had some ongoing income from sales of Jacobs’ prints. And the government financial support has helped in the short-term.”

“They offered €1500 per business, that basically covered the losses for a month,” Hicks said. “The problem is if you’re allowed to be open, they’re less generous.”

And that is indeed the problem they face. The house’s location should make it perfect for those hungry for a rural trip, with easy access to outdoor activities such as biking. But the sanitation requirements felt too overwhelming for them to manage. How do they clean the rooms and the common areas as guests check-in and out? Plus, they live in the house and worried about constantly being exposed to a stream of strangers.

So, they made the difficult choice to remain closed this season.

“In terms of the finances, I think I’m going to give us 4 or 5 months before really freaking out,” Jacobs said. “And then we’ll decide how freaked out how we need to be.”

Brave new travel world

Whether it’s hosts or tourists, nothing is going to look quite the same this summer. On a recent weekend in Occitanie’s Najac, a Medieval town in the Aveyron Department that is labeled one of France’s “most beautiful villages,” a small number of tourists wandered the cobblestone streets.

At the Bar De La Plage, the owners had removed all menus and replaced them with QR codes on the tables. Customers scan the code and it takes them to a menu on their smartphones.

Across town, Najac’s signature site is its 12th-century Royal Fortress. Only one group could enter the ticket office a time. Visitors were told wearing masks inside would be required. For those who didn’t have their own, the young man selling tickets gently grabbed a mask using a pair of tweezers and handed it to them. Brochures had been removed and replaced with QR codes that visitors could scan to launch explanatory videos on YouTube.

Inside the castle, playful signs used Medieval themes to remind visitors to maintain a distance of “one épée.” Other signs with arrows detailed a path for everyone to follow to avoid crossing others. And hand gel stations had been placed throughout the castle.

Further south in the Occitanie region, the Pic du Midi observatory, perched high in the Pyrénées, has also been busy preparing for the summer season by training staff on new hygiene measures. Because it had already planned to close for some weeks this spring for renovations, the site that has an inn, restaurant, and theater only lost about €1 million, according to director Daniel Soucaze des Soucaze.

Reservations for those rooms and the restaurant have been strong. But this summer will still be tough. The Pic du Midi won’t be able to hold a series of special events that typically draw strong crowds. And the number of people who can enter at the same time and visit the observation deck will be restricted and tickets must be booked in advance. As such, Soucaze des Soucaze said he won’t higher the 25 season workers he would typically bring on.

“We have to economize,” he said. “We hope to relaunch those events next year. We’ll have to ask our staff to work a bit harder this summer, but I think they understand. And we’ll try to move on from this difficult period.”

Darren Kennedy, the Sales and Marketing Director of the Chateau St Pierre de Serjac, is feeling even upbeat after several months of difficult work to reinvent his luxury property. Located in the Languedoc region of the Hérault Department, the castle is nestled among rolling fields and vineyards. It has 8 rooms inside as well as 36 villas scattered around the grounds. Visitors could choose to eat in the main castle restaurant or could opt to remain self-contained on their little corner of the property.

France’s generous unemployment system allowed Kennedy to furlough most employees while they received most of their salary, and then bring them quickly back to work after the nation’s lockdown ended. During that period, there were regular video calls to plan such things as a new marketing strategy.

“Some hotels seemed to have completely mothballed their properties,” he said. “Their social media was dormant. We took the decision quite early that would be in a better position than most because our property is different.”

Normally the property is booked far advance, particularly with large groups of business clients organizing events. But with international travel limited or uncertain, Kennedy set his sights on a clientele who tend to visit less frequently in the summer: The French.

“We’ve never really had to rely on the French market in July and August,” Kennedy said.

“Be we decided that we were going to have to appeal to the domestic market and try to get our communications started.”

He began advertising with more French newspapers, dropped the cancellation window from 60 days to 7 days, and began working with more travel agents. His timing appeared to be good. Reservations for August are on track to match last year while July is down about 35%.

In addition to more French guests, he’s also seeing bookings from Belgium and Germany. Meanwhile, he’s been trying to persuade British guests not to cancel and hoping that the opening of travel with the U.K. could yet result in additional reservations for July.

When those guests arrive, they’ll find the reception desk behind plexiglass, all paper brochures and guest books removed, the daily menu on a chalkboard, staff wearing masks at all times, lots of gel, a cleaning team using bio-misters to sanitize rooms, and digital thermometers if necessary.

“We’re doing everything we possibly can,” Kennedy said. “We feel that we’re probably pretty well prepared. There’s always going to be an element of risk with other countries coming in. But you have to make sure as a business you can adapt. And right now, that’s what we’re doing.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I am an American journalist based in Toulouse, France, writing about technology, travel, culture, politics, and entertainment. Before moving to France in 2014, I spent 15 years covering Silicon Valley for the Los Angeles Times and The San Jose Mercury News. I also run the French Crossroads travel website.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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