Pandemic travel has reached a turning point

Covid-19 vaccines and their accelerators are losing their relevance for travelers around the world. Currently, there are more countries and territories " in accordance with data that welcomes any American traveler without restrictions. Of the 109 destinations that still require testing, quarantine, or both for unvaccinated travelers, 17 prohibit American tourism anyway.

This is a welcome turnaround for the global tourism economy devastated by the new coronavirus, and bright news for those looking for signs of the end of the pandemic. The lifting of restrictions is "recognition that we are at a new stage of this epidemic, where the situation is more stable," says infectious disease epidemiologist David Doody of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Most recently, on September 14, the head of the World Health Organization announced that "the end of the epidemic is on the horizon."

"The world increasingly wants to overcome the moment when covid is taking over our daily lives in everything we do," says Catherine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In October, Japan recently began accepting vaccinated visitors from 68 countries without visas, ending nearly three years of strict travel restrictions that prevented tourists from visiting the island nation; unvaccinated visitors will still need to take a negative test and possibly be quarantined upon arrival.

Bhutan, the number one destination thanks to its stunning mountain scenery, spicy cuisine and gilded temples, has completely abolished pandemic-related entry requirements for international tourists since September 23, adding to the 30 destinations where testing and quarantine requirements have been lifted over the past few weeks. The Himalayan Kingdom joins Canada, the Bahamas and New Zealand, which have also recently retreated from the requirements for travelers.

Apart from mainland China, which remains closed to tourists, the United States, the Philippines and Indonesia are currently the only major tourist markets in the world that completely close their borders to unvaccinated visitors, except for exceptions related to age or health status.

Experts attribute the policy changes to the relative stability of mortality rates, despite an increase in the number of infections due to the Omicron subvariant, known as BA.5. They say that this is the result of large-scale vaccination and propaganda campaigns.

We are in a completely different place today than we were two years ago or even a year ago, says Dr. Wafa al-Sadr, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University's Millman School of Public Health. We have a deeper understanding of this virus, how we can better fight it, and we have several vaccines that are becoming increasingly available that help alleviate concerns about covid.

Getting a vaccine is still, of course, the safest and smoothest way to see the world. Opens US passports for a possible 190 stamps without any difficulties with testing. As a result of the easing of restrictions, roaming is rapidly returning. Nearly two-thirds of Americans are planning a trip over the next three months, despite rising prices and disruptions in an industry that is still struggling with the ongoing effects of the covid virus. For example, the capacity of international air lines is about 12 percent lower than this time in 2019, according to official Airline Guides, a global provider of travel data, while the capacity of domestic flights has almost increased worldwide.

Countries that rely heavily on inbound tourists are experiencing a slower recovery, Sharota Fadnis, vice president of research and product strategy at focusright, a travel industry research firm, said in an email. For example, many markets in Asia are heavily dependent on Chinese travelers, and China's restrictions on travel abroad affect the pace of their recovery.

Focuswright predicts that China's tourism market will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. However, Fadnis said Southeast Asia was "showing good recovery rates," while Japan's reopening would "give momentum to the region.”

Since only a large part of Asia began to reopen, tourists hungry for rest began to look for other places. "It was a real European summer," says Josh Geller, a travel consultant for the New York agency embark beyond. "We've had countless clients in the south of France and Italy," and these destinations "are still popular."Even at lower temperatures, and travelers are usually looking for destinations in warmer weather, customers are still booking European vacations," says Geller. It is predicted that Asia will overtake Europe as the first destination for airliners in the coming autumn and winter.

According to Geller, the number of customer bookings has doubled compared to the level of 2019. Now that Japan has reopened its doors, he sees pent-up demand for visiting Asia as a whole. "Customers will call me and say: "I heard Japan is opening; what do you think about going to Vietnam?" - he says. Although the cancellation of vaccination requirements has spared travelers some guesswork, Casey Hanescu, president of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, warns that many operators and companies with which the trade group cooperates still require travelers to show proof of vaccination or negative test results in order to book accommodation or activities such as guided tours.. And the burden, according to Hanescu, now falls on individuals who must travel responsibly.

"In fact, don't ask, don't tell," says Geller, referring to the possible trips of tourists infected with covid. Customers tend to be guided by common sense, he says, noting that those who show symptoms or test positive for covid reschedule flights.

With the arrival of winter, the seasonal nature of most respiratory viruses makes it important to be a good person, regardless of official border policy. "This virus is still mutating. "It's still a threat," says Wallace, an epidemiologist in Chicago. As reported on October 3, the World Health Organization attributes 9,126 deaths to covid-19 in the previous week. "It's really hard to get a horse back into the barn.


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