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Helen Fanthorpe
7/2/2020

This article covers May 2020. Visit our up-to-date article with the latest news on Corona virus and travel here: Corona virus travel updates.

If you are planning to travel, check out how to make sure that your travel insurance covers Corona virus.

29.05 – National Trust to begin phased reopening

  • France is moving into its second phase of lockdown easing – from 2 June, restaurants, bars and cafés will reopen, as will parks and beaches.
  • Hotels reopen in Austria today.
  • Spain’s Foreign Minister suggests that low-risk cities could reopen to foreign visitors first.
  • China has loosened travel restrictions for business travellers from Germany and Korea. Media reports suggest the country could soon relax its border controls with countries including Singapore, Japan, the UK, Germany and France, though the curb on international flights will remain throughout June.
  • Southwest Airlines has boosted the number of flights and routes in its schedule between 31 October 2020 and 4 January 2021.
  • Air France-KLM will be operating flights to Italy again from 1 June.
  • TUI has announced it will be cancelling international beach trips for UK holidaymakers until 1 July.

National Trust ushers in phased reopening

The National Trust has announced it will be reopening a number of its gardens and parklands in England and Northern Ireland from 3 June. Advanced booking will be required to limit numbers and protect public safety. Read the full story.

Zouk to host virtual parties this weekend

It’s time to get your dancing shoes out. World-famous nightclub Zouk has partnered with the Singapore Tourist Board to host a series of virtual parties for clubbers around the world, with a line-up of local and international DJs, AR filters and 3D virtual backgrounds. Read the full story.

The Croatia 10

Croatia has lifted travel restrictions for ten EU nations. Citizens from the following countries will now be able to enter: Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Many Croatian hotels are already open for business. Read the full story.

28.05 – Switzerland and Bulgaria release reopening plans

  • The Portuguese island of Madeira is set to restart its tourist industry on 1 July.
  • South Korea’s lockdown restrictions will be re-imposed for two weeks from Friday after a spike in new cases.
  • Hotels and other travel businesses have called on the UK government to scrap its impending quarantine plans.
  • Disney has revealed plans to reopen Walt Disney World Orlando on 11 July.
  • China is understood to be contemplating tripling its current quotas on international flights.
  • The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has partnered with CNN to create a film on their #TravelTomorrow campaign.
  • Hawaii may not receive any cruise traffic until 2021 because of the pandemic.

Switzerland opening to EU for July

Switzerland has announced it will be opening its borders to Schengen-zone nations by 6 July, while larger public gatherings, cinemas, theatres and concert venues will be back in business from 6 June. Read the full story.

Scotland to ease lockdown

Scotland will begin easing its lockdown restrictions on Friday. Phase One of the process will likely mean its residents can meet people from one other household, as long as they are outdoors and in groups of up to eight. Read the full story.

Bulgaria’s back

Restaurants, cafés and bars in Bulgaria will be allowed to open at full capacity from 1 June, ready for the summer season. Theatres and concert venues will also be able to throw their doors open, though discos and nightclubs will remain closed until at least 14 June. Read the full story.

WTTC launches global safety stamp

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched the first global safety stamp to recognize “Safe Travels” protocols to protect against Coivd-19. The safety and hygiene mark, intended to reassure consumers, has received backing from the United Nationals World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Read the full story.

Bali reopens to visitors

Today Bali has reopened its borders to visitors, though there are a number of strict rules in place to ensure the safety of the public. Travellers must obtain a unique QR code and present a negative Covid-19 test certificate to be permitted. Read the full requirements.

Japan clarifies it will not be paying half of all traveller’s expenses

To stem the social-media storm prompted by rumours that Japan would be paying half traveller’s expenses in a bid to stimulate tourism, the Japan Tourism Agency has clarified the matter. Plans are still under consideration, and would only cover a portion of domestic travel expenses.

27.05 – UK excluded from Greek “white list”

  • Cyprus is planning to cover medical costs for any visitors who fall ill with Covid-19 while on holiday on the island.
  • Falling rates of active corona cases in Australia have prompted the country to look again towards a “travel bubble” with New Zealand.
  • Disney is gearing up to present its theme-park reopening plans.
  • On Sunday, domestic flights are set to resume in Saudi Arabia.

UK tourists left off Greece holiday list

The UK has been excluded from Greece’s “white list” of low Covid-19 countries from which travellers are allowed to visit. The list includes nations with low infection rates – such as China, Japan, Poland, Serbia and Australia. Alongside the UK, other notable exclusions include Italy, Spain and the USA. Read the full story.

Thailand considers mix-and-match approach to low-risk areas

Thailand is looking into a “mix-and-match” scheme for quarantine waivers. New rules could match visitors from low-risk countries with low-risk areas within Thailand. Read the full story.

Vietnam to issue e-visas from July

Vietnam has taken a tentative step towards reopening by announcing it will resume its issuing of e-visas from 1 July. Eighty countries – including Germany, India and South Korea – will be eligible for the scheme. Read the full story.

European air traffic volumes continue to rise

Though the changes might be small, European air traffic volumes are continuing to rise – providing more than a glimmer of hope. Meanwhile, in an interview, Ryanair CEO predicted that its planes would be up to sixty percent full in July, and that the UK would abandon its quarantine plans in the coming weeks.

26.05 – Reopening continues on the European continent

  • As expected, the UK government announced its new quarantine plans on Friday. From 8 June, all new arrivals will be required to self-isolated for 14 days – spot checks and £1000 fines will be in operation.
  • The USA has suspended travel from Brazil as coronavirus cases and deaths continue to rise in the Latin American country.
  • The Vatican Museums set to reopen on 1 June.
  • Nevada’s governor has suggested that Las Vegas’ powerhouse casinos could open as early as 4 June.
  • Travel group TUI is set to resume flights to major European holiday destinations by the end of June.
  • Indian air travel – restarted on Monday – got off to a shaky start as chaos ensued after some states imposed restrictions on flight numbers just hours before schedules were due to resume.
  • Immensely popular Universal Orlando will begin a phased reopening on 5 June.
  • Air Canada has announced it will fly to nearly one hundred destinations this summer.
  • Free movement and business activity will be allowed from Wednesday in Dubai.

Quarantine period to end in Spain

Spain has announced that foreign arrivals will no longer be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period from 1 July, as the country looks forward to welcoming tourists back. Museums, hotels and bars have already started to open in Madrid and Barcelona.

German travel a go-go?

The German government is keen to end travel warnings to a meaty 31 European countries by 15 June provided it is safe to do so. Hotels in some German states are reopening already. Read the full story.

Greek islands gear up

Greece has continued down the road to reopening, restarting its island ferry services on Monday, while cafés and restaurants opened their doors, too. The country – which is heavily reliant on the tourist industry – is keen to make the most of the summer season. Read the full story.

Cross-border lovers reunited in Denmark

From today, Denmark will allow entry to cross-border lovers from other Nordic nations and Germany. Couples will have to prove that they’ve been in a relationship for more than six months. Read the full story.

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    22.05 – UK quarantine expected from June

    • Australia has asked to be exempt from the UK’s new quarantine measures (see below).

    UK to announce new quarantine measures

    The UK is expected to announce its new quarantine proposal today, including a £1000 fine for anyone who fails to self-isolate for a fortnight on arrival. The rules – which will come into play next month – will apply to land, sea, train and air travel, and will include British nationals returning home from abroad. Read the full story.

    Jacinda Ardern suggests 4-day week to aid NZ tourism

    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested companies contemplate a 4-day week in a bid to boost domestic tourism. The country has been one of the world’s coronavirus success stories. Ardern made the comments over a Facebook Live video chat, noting that employees could use their day off to travel, as well as maintaining a good work-life balance. Read the full story.

    Austria to expand testing to include hotel workers

    Austria is seeking to expand coronavirus testing to screen hotel staff in a move to bring back the tourists and increase consumer confidence. The country's hotels are due to open from 29 May, joining shops, restaurants, bars and some museums that have already reopened. Read the full story.

    21.05 – More planes take to the skies

    • Cyprus will open its airports on 9 June.
    • In Austria, meetings with 100 attendees will be permitted from 29 May. From 1 August, events with 500 attendees will be allowed – a figure rising to 1000 if government-approved safety measures are in place.
    • Australian states and territories are divided on whether to open their borders to domestic tourism.
    • The Greek tourist season is set to kick off on 15 June, according to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, with international charter flights resuming in July.
    • Cambodia has announced it will admit visitors from six countries: Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Iran and the USA – with medical assurances that they don't have Covid-19.
    • India’s domestic airlines are preparing to take to the skies again on 25 May.

    Easyjet is back

    Easyjet is on course to resume a “small number” of flights in June after grounding its entire fleet in late March. The schedule will include domestic routes across the UK and France. Though flights will leave from Gatwick, Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Belfast, the airline will only be operating one international service from the UK to start with: Gatwick to Nice. And though face masks will be mandatory, they won’t be leaving the middle row empty. Read the full story.

    Beaches banned again in northern France

    Three towns located in northwest France will see their beaches closed again – just days after they reopened – as locals were accused of flouting social-distancing rules. As restrictions eased around the country last weekend, hundreds of beaches reopened with new safety measures. Read the full story.

    Emirates resumes flights to UK

    As of today, Emirates has resumed flights to nine international destinations, including to the UK (London Heathrow). The other eight cities now covered are: Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.

    20.05 - North American borders stay sealed

    • Greece’s tourist sector has been offered a €750-million funding package by Eurobank to help it through the coronavirus crisis.
    • Lufthansa warns that hundreds of its planes could be grounded until as late as 2022.
    • Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed it will not resume operations until at least 31 July.
    • United Airlines will partner with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to create new hygiene protocols on its aircraft.

    Cancel your American dreams

    North America could be sealed off from international travel for the foreseeable future. The Canada-US border looks set to remain closed – aside from non-essential travel – until 21 June, while the USA and Mexico have extended travel restrictions at their land border, too. Read the full story.

    Virtual tours enjoy soaring popularity

    Google has reported a seven hundred percent increase in searches for virtual tours over the last sixty days: with international travel almost universally off the cards, what better way to check out the world’s top galleries and museums? We’ve rounded up 12 of the best “virtual tourism” campaigns around the world, as well as 10 places you can visit by webcam.

    Air Baltic resume flights

    Air Baltic are back up and running, and will be gradually offering more and more flights. The airline is the flag carrier of Latvia, which has been enjoying a low-risk “travel bubble” with Lithuania and Estonia since 15 May.

    19.05 - UK quarantine on the cards

    • Spain announces plans to welcome international tourists back to its shores as early as late June.
    • Florida Keys is gearing up to open up to tourists on 1 June – the island chain has been sealed off for more than two months.
    • Finnair is to gradually expand its flight schedule, resuming its long-haul routes from July.
    • Delta will add flights to its schedule to make sure that its planes are no more than sixty percent full until at least August.

    A Thai rebrand

    Thailand is to undergo a rebrand in the wake of coronavirus, taking the tagline “Amazing Trusted Thailand”. With new quotas on tourist numbers, the Southeast Asian nation also plans to target high spenders in the region. Read the full story.

    A virtual Mental Health Week

    Mental Health Week has kicked off with a range of virtual events around the world to calm the mind, from free yoga sessions live from Palm Springs to a Japanese guide to forest bathing (shinrinyoku) and a virtual cooking series all the way from Tahiti. This year’s theme is “kindness”, an important and universal message to take with us in these uncertain times.

    Banking on October

    Patricia Yates from Visit Britain has suggesting adding a bank holiday in October this year as a means to boost the tourist industry.

    18.05 - An Italian renaissance?

    • Italy is set to lift travel restrictions on 3 June. Travellers from other EU and Schengen-zone countries – including the UK – will no longer be required to quarantine on arrival.
    • Austria will reopen its borders with Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic on 15 June. These countries will join the already confirmed line-up of Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein in enjoying access. Restrictions will remain in place at the Italian border.
    • Spain is hoping to open its borders towards the end of June.
    • One of the UK’s largest holiday-park companies, Haven, is ready to reopen at the beginning of July, with quotas on visitor numbers.
    • Hong Kong is looking into electronic checks as a means of creating a “travel bubble” between it, Macau and Guangdong.
    • The USA is reviewing plans to check traveller’s temperatures at the country’s airports.
    • Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced that the country will keep its current travel restrictions live until at least 20 August.

    Italy to boost tourist industry with voucher scheme

    The Italian government has released plans to stimulate the tourist industry by presenting its citizens with a travel voucher to be spent between July 2020 and the end of the year. Vouchers for individuals will represent €150, couples €300 and families with 3+ members €500 – to be spent in hotels and other types of accommodation. Read the full story.

    Blow to UK–France travel bubble

    Downing Street appeared to backtrack on suggestions that there would be no quarantine measures for French arrivals in the UK. A government spokesperson told reporters that “There isn’t a French exemption”. Read the full story.

    Heathrow urges “travel-bubble” approach

    Heathrow Airport has urged the UK government to go for a “travel-bubble” approach rather than instigating a 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals. The main issue with the airport’s suggestion is that travel bubbles rely on countries sharing “low-risk” status – a position the UK is yet to achieve. Read the full story.

    Vegas airport introduces PPE vending machines

    You can already pick up a dazzling array of goods in Las Vegas airport’s two dozen vending machines, from cupcakes to toiletries. Now, you’ll be able to find PPE too: three machines at McCarran International Airport now offer Covid-19 protection, from face masks to hand sanitizer and gloves.

    15.05 - Greece is the word

    • Chinese airline carriers expect a full recovery by 2021, though global traffic will take longer to return.
    • Japan is back: 39 out of its 47 prefectures have reopened, though the capital, Tokyo, and Kyoto, remain closed.
    • German airline group Lufthanser to restart a raft of flights – to destinations including Mumbai, Toronto and LA – from next month.
    • The Seychelles has banned cruise ships until 2022.
    • Large areas of London will be closed to traffic as lockdown is eased.

    Greece set to open beaches at the weekend

    "Organized" beaches in Greece are set to open Saturday 16 May, with a range of new safety and hygiene rules in place. New measures include visitor quotas, ticket entrances, set distances between umbrellas and the prohibition of alcohol. Read the full story.

    EU air traffic shows signs of rebound

    Though EU air traffic is still nearly 85 percent down on 2019 figures, the number of flights is steadily rising. It's encouraging news for the industry.

    World recognizes Endangered Species Day

    Today is Endangered Species Day – a time to reflect on the diversity of wildlife on our planet, and to herald the conservation efforts of those helping species fighting for survival. With the coronavirus impacting livelihoods all over the world, it's sadly been accompanied by a rise in poaching. Check out the @newbig5 project, calling for us to photograph animals rather than hunt them.

    14.05 - US national parks continue to reopen

    • Mexico's Los Cabos resort set to begin reopening to tourists in June.
    • LA's Hollywood Bowl has been cancelled for the first time in its one-hundred-year history.
    • Japan's bullet trains announce a forty percent reduction in services.

    France announces €18-billion plan to support its tourist sector

    Over in France, authorities have announced measures totting up to a meaty €18 billion to support its tourist sector, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic with the closure of restaurants, hotels and attractions. Read the full story.

    Airbnb CEO urges hosts to introduce cleaning protocols

    In a weekly live video broadcasted to Airbnb hosts, company CEO Brian Chesky suggested that to compete with hotels this year, hosts would have to introduce strict cleaning protocols to reassure guests of their safety. While hotels may have more to think about than rented apartments – with shared spaces to navigate as well as guest numbers and turnover – travellers could be reassured by big-name hotel brands and government-endorsed hygiene stamps. Read the full story.

    Yellowstone and Grand Canyon national parks to start welcoming tourists back

    Two of the most popular national parks in the USA are set to begin their phased reopening to visitors over the next few days. Read the full story.

    13.05 - EU promises a summer season

    • Germany announces gradual lifting of its border restrictions, with the aim of free travel in Europe from 15 June.
    • Belgium's schools to reopen as the country moves into the next phase of easing restrictions.
    • Emirates have announced plans to reintroduce flights from 21 May to the following destinations: London Heathrow, Pairs, Madrid, Milan, Frankfurt, Chicago, Toronto, Sydney and Melbourne.
    • Under new regulations, EU flights will not be required to keep middle seats empty, though masks will be mandatory.
    • The Hilton chain has reopened all of its hotels on mainland China.
    • Tourism Western Australia has launched a virtual hub, with a wealth of immersive content – including the opportunity to learn an Aboriginal language.

    EU economic affairs commissioner Paolo Gentiloni: "We will have a tourist season this summer"

    The message ensuing from the EU today is that there will be a summer season, "even if it's with security measures and limitations." States across the continent are beginning to lift their border restrictions, with Austria and Germany the latest states to reveal their plans to start reopening to international travel. Read the full story.

    Iceland to welcome visitors back from 15 June

    Iceland has announced it will be bringing visitors back no later than 15 June. Under current restrictions, no one can enter the country from outside the Schengen Zone, and those that do are subject to a fourteen-day quarantine. From 15 May, citizens of the Faroe Islands and Greenland will be able to make landfall on Iceland without any quarantine period. After 15 June, tourists from around the world will once again be permitted: new arrivals with have the choice of a two-week quarantine, taking a test for the virus on arrival, or presenting a clean health record from authorities back home. Read the full story.

    Vietnam leads the way in Southeast Asia

    With an stunning record of zero deaths caused by coronavirus (and under three hundred confirmed cases), Vietnam's travel industry is now gearing up apace. Local transport – including domestic flights and bus and train services – is back up and running, while restaurants and shops have continued to reopen since late April. International air travel is likely to begin a phased return to the country in June. Read the full story.

    12.05 - EU borders to open?

    • Visitors arriving from France and Ireland will be exempt from the UK's fourteen-day quarantine.
    • Spain to introduce fourteen-day quarantine for new arrivals from 15 May.

    EU plans to advise open borders between countries with similar risk profiles

    The EU is expected to advise opening borders between member states with "similar overall risk profiles" according to a leaked document – with the announcement expected to be issued from Brussels on Wednesday. Read the full story.

    Ryanair announces new Covid-19 rules and unveils 2021 summer sale

    Ryanair is planning to resume forty percent of its services in July, giving hope for the summer season. Under new guidelines, customers will have their temperatures checked at the airport, where they will also wash their hands with sanitizer. Face-masks will be mandatory, while on board only cashless payments will be accepted and travellers will be required to raise their hands to use the toilet. Read the full story.

    In other news concerning the airline, Ryanair this week also released its 2021 summer sale, with flights to Spain from just £37, Germany from £28 and France from £30. Read the full story.

    11.05 - Boris sets out British "roadmap"

    • Germany has come under pressure from its neighbours to drop its strict border closures.
    • Over the weekend, Belarus defied all Covid-19 advice to push ahead with its World War II parade, attended by thousands of people, including elderly veterans.
    • Unlike on domestic public transport, French authorities will not be enforcing a one-metre distance rule on planes.
    • Turkey has indicated it will start to ease internal travel restrictions this month, with the hope of reinstating international flights in June.
    • Shanghai's Disneyland reopened today with sold-out tickets.
    • As of 31 May, masks will be mandatory for Greyhound-bus users in the USA.
    • Starting on Monday, all KLM passengers will also be obliged to wear masks.

    Boris Johnson sets out British "roadmap" to recovery

    In a national address on Sunday evening, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced minor lockdown changes to come into effect from Wednesday – including encouraging those who can't work from home to return to the office, and allowing unlimited outdoor exercise and even a spot of sunbathing. He suggested that schools could go back and shops could partially reopen as early as 1 June, while the hospitality industry could start its revival – with socially distanced measures – from 1 July. He also outlined a new, five-tiered Covid Alert System, warning the public that should they flout the rules and cases start to rise again, restrictions would be upped once more.

    In a further development, Johnson detailed a 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals to the UK. Read the full story.

    Qatar Airways to resume a roster of flights

    Qatar Airways is to start up its flight schedule again, resuming operations to fifty destinations – including Heathrow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin – by the end of May. The airline said it expected to see short-haul flights favoured first, followed by an upsurge of longer visits to see family and friends. Read the full story.

    Wizz Air founder predicts speedy recovery

    Wizz Air founder József Váradi has suggested that young people will be keen to take to the skies again as soon as they are allowed. Though the airline has cut 1000 jobs across Europe, Váradi reports they are currently selling seventy-five percent of their seats, and are planning to launch new routes to four Greek islands for the summer season, as well as to Faro in Portugal's Algarve. Read the full story.

    Tallinn reopens

    Ready for the Baltic travel bubble – due to commence on 15 May – the Estonian capital of Tallinn has started lifting restrictions for select venues and activities.

    07.05 - British quality mark to reassure visitors

    • A poll conducted by Harris Poll reveals that nearly half of Americans won't feel comfortable flying until the pandemic has completely passed, even with new airline safety measures in place.

    VisitBritain to introduce a social-distancing quality mark

    In a bid to reassure visitors, VisitBritian intends to introduce a quality mark to guide travellers to attractions deemed safe to visit in the wake of coronavirus. It mirrors the "Clean & Safe" stamp announced by Portugal in late April. Read the full story.

    06.05 - Baltic bubble in the pipeline

    • New Zealand and Australia confirm they will begin working on a “travel bubble” – or trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone to be exact – as soon as it is safe to do so.
    • Wizz Air announces it will resume flights to Portugal in mid-June and Greece in July.
    • Egyptian hotels due to reopen to domestic travellers on 1 June, with strict new rules, including instructions to operate at 50 percent capacity.
    • Virgin Atlantic to end Gatwick flights.

    Baltic bubble to operate from mid-May

    From 15 May, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will allow free movement between them, creating a Baltic “travel bubble”. Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis commented, “we have agreed that all three Baltic states have properly contained the spread of the coronavirus, and we trust each others’ health systems.” People entering from outside the bubble will still need to quarantine for a fortnight. Read the full story.

    What will flights look like after Covid-19?

    Airlines around the world are starting to think about how to guarantee customer safety as travel restrictions are gradually lifted. You might have heard mumblings of vacant middle seats, luggage disinfectant, health screenings at airports and even back-facing seats. Anything is possible. Read the full story.

    Commemorations moved online for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II

    In the run up to the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a range of memorials, commemorations and other events have been cancelled as a result of coronavirus. Instead, pay a visit to Europe Remembers, a campaign run by the Liberation Route Europe, which allows people around the world to join live conversations with veterans and eyewitnesses. There’s the opportunity to ask your own questions, as well as listen to their first-hand accounts. Read the full story.

    Alternatively, order a copy of Travel The Liberation Route Europe for the ultimate history lesson from your armchair, a partnership project between Rough Guides and the Liberation Route Europe.

    05.05 - Czech in for bus and train travel

    • Air France joins other airlines in making wearing masks compulsory on its flights from 11 May.
    • Flight Centre has scrapped its steep cancellation fee for bookings impacted by coronavirus.
    • Various countries are toying with the idea of a "health passport" as a way of ensuring safe travel once lockdowns are lifted.
    • Cancun hotels to open on 1 June with "corona-free" certification to ease visitor's coronavirus concerns.

    Czech Republic to ease more travel restrictions

    The Czech Republic will lift its ban on international bus and train travel from 11 May, as the country seeks to ease pressure on its economy. Routes will obviously still be impacted by the rules of its neighbours. Read the full story.

    Chinese domestic travel sees a hopeful Labor Day boost

    China's decision to extend its three-day Labor Day holiday into a five-day affair seems to have paid off, with domestic travel seeing a welcome rebound. Though Chinese citizens opted for attractions closer to home, spending has quadrupled since April's Ching Ming Festival. All eyes were on China, where Labor Day was viewed as a barometer of how travel and spending patterns might look in the aftermath of the pandemic. Read the full story.

    Ireland launches "I will return" campaign video

    Meanwhile, over in Ireland, the Tourist Office has released an evocative video on Vimeo entitled "I will return: Ireland's poetic mood". Green hills, wild horses and craggy shores will have you craving the great outdoors.

    Road trips up in the States

    The Great American road trip is the stuff that bucket lists are made of, and – as restrictions start to lift in select states in the USA – the Americans seem to agree. Data shows that road trips were up 23 percent in Georgia, with an 8.2 percent increase across the nation as a whole. Read the full story.

    04.05 - USA's National Travel and Tourism Week kicks off

    National Travel and Tourism Week kicks off in the States

    It'll come as no surprise that the USA's National Travel and Tourism Week will look a bit different to previous years. With actual travel off the cards, this year's celebrations will focus on the strength and resilience of the travel industry. Imaginative events include a Virtual Road Trip – launching on Tuesday 5 May – highlighting evocative destinations and key industry players that embody the spirit of American travel from coast to coast. Read the full story.

    Puerto Rico launches live guided tours

    As part of National Travel and Tourism Week, Puerto Rico is offering live guided tours via Google Earth. This week, three online tours will be hosted by guide Jorge Montalvo, each lasting around 30 minutes. Armchair travel just got much more exciting. Read the full story.

    Hints of a "travel bubble" between Australia and New Zealand

    You might have heard mention of "social bubbles" in the news recently as a possible means to help gradually lift lockdown in the UK. The idea is that households would join together into groups of up to ten individuals, creating social bubbles as a step towards increasing social contact. Travel bubbles are a similar idea: two or more countries allowing people to move exclusively between them as they shift towards opening their borders. Politicians from Australia and New Zealand are considering a travel corridor (or "bubble") between the nations – they are natural partners because of their proximity, close bilateral relationship and the fact that the countries already have a high level of tourist exchange. Read the full story.

    01.05 - On your bike

    • The Czech Republic will start lifting restrictions on 11 May, including allowing social and sporting events of up to 100 people.
    • Israel will tentatively welcome tourists from 3 May, when hotels and zimmers (Israeli B&Bs) with ground-floor rooms will open for business.
    • Air Canada suggests that people will be able to travel worldwide by Christmas.

    European cities to peddle their way out of lockdown

    European capitals from Brussels to Paris are looking to use their lockdowns as an opportunity to combat car congestion. The plan is to encourage city citizens to swap their cars – and the frustration of bumper-to-bumper traffic jams – for trusty bicycles when restrictions are lifted: a healthy move for the people and the planet. The Belgian government has already promised to turn 40km of main roads into cycle paths ready for when Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed, while Paris is another city looking towards the Dutch model. It could be the start of a cycle revolution. Read the full story.

    Greece to reopen to tourists from July

    Greece, which is to begin lifting its restrictions on 4 May, is hoping to welcome tourists back as early as July this year. Hotels are expected to open from 1 June, though rules will remain in place to protect travellers and locals against coronavirus. What exactly this will mean for summer holidaymakers remains to be seen. Read the full story.

    To find out more, read Rough Guides' overview of what coronavirus means for the travel industry.

    30.04 - How will China spend Labor Day?

    • Spain's foreign minister rules out the early reopening of its tourist industry, saying the country will "gradually open to tourism when it’s in a position to guarantee tourists’ safety.”
    • UK tour operator Tui cancels beach holidays until 11 June.
    • New Jersey's state parks will open on Saturday 2 May.
    • Several cruise companies (including Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Disney Cruise Line) have confirmed they will extend the pause on their operations until at least late June.

    Chinese hotels offer big incentives to drive bookings over Labor Day

    Labor Day in China this year means a five-day holiday (the government upped it from the normal three days to encourage its citizens to spend, spend, spend). How the population chooses to spend their break in the aftermath of coronavirus could be an important indication of what's to come in other destinations around the world. In a bid to bring the punters back, Chinese hotels are pulling out all the stops, offering alluring discounts and even setting up live streams inside their businesses (which actually seems to work!) Read the full story.

    Cyprus to gradually reopen to tourists from July – but not to Brits

    Cyprus' tourist minister has indicated that Cyprus could begin to open its shores to travellers – gradually and safely – from July. However, British tourists will have to wait a bit longer: arrivals will be limited at first to countries within the EU. But, as VisitCyprus says, it'll be worth the wait. Read the full story.

    Hotels thank NHS workers with free stays

    Luxury Family Hotels has announced that it will open its hotels to NHS staff and their families exclusively post lockdown – with a free overnight stay to say thank you for their hard work during the pandemic. It joins projects like 10 or More's #HotelsThankTheNHS, which has a similar remit – the latter has more than 100 hotels participating in their scheme, offering free staycations in sumptuous hotels like the five-star Landmark Hotel in London.

    29.04 - Lockdown lifting continues

    • France and Spain will begin easing their lockdown restrictions on 11 May.
    • Vietnam begins to open up its economy. The country has reported zero official corona-related deaths.
    • Greece is another European nation preparing to relax its lockdown measures – 4 May will see most restrictions lifted, though its borders remain closed.
    • German ministers have extended the country's worldwide travel warning until mid-June.

    "Clean & Safe" stamp introduced by Portugal to reassure holidaymakers

    Portugal has shown it is gearing up to welcome holidaymakers back to its shores with the introduction of a scheme that allows business to apply for a "Clean & Safe" stamp. The stamps, which are free to apply for, will guarantee the business meets hygiene and social-distancing protocols to protect against Covid-19. It's a hopeful sign for anyone still planning on a European summer holiday – the Canary Islands and Spain are looking at similar initiatives. Read the full story.

    Hotels in Poland to reopen for summer

    While coronavirus cases are still on the rise in Poland, a government spokesman has indicated that its hotels will be open in time for the summer season. Read the full story.

    Croatia launches Long Distance Love Campaign

    With travellers unable to make it to Croatia's alluring shores in person, the tourist board has launched the Croatia Long Distance Love Campaign. On the website, you can take virtual tours around the beautiful country, from exploring the walled city of Dubrovnik to taking a kayaking trip. Visit the site yourself.

    28.04 - Austria allowed out

    • Austria has announced it will lift its lockdown at the end of April, with gatherings of up to ten people permitted.
    • Japan says the Olympic Games would be "scrapped" altogether if they were unable to run in 2021.

    Austrian hotels to open on 29 May

    Austria is paving the way to become one of the first European countries to welcome visitors back, with its government giving the go-ahead for hotels to open as early as 29 May. Hotels in the grand old capital of Vienna have already reported a raft of bookings for mid-June, while airlines Ryanair and EasyJet are taking bookings, too – good news for travellers everywhere. Read the full story.

    Vilnius to become one, big open-air café

    The Lithuanian capital has announced it will give many of its public spaces – squares, streets and plazas – over to local cafés, restaurants and bars, allow them to spill their tables outwards and serve their punters while observing social-distancing rules. Lockdown measures are starting to be relaxed in the Baltic state, with many shops and cafés opening this week. The good news? Travellers may soon be able to head to Vilnius and enjoy a unique al-fresco Baltic experience. Read the full story.

    Visit Sicily on the cheap

    In a drive to bring back visitors to the Mediterranean island just off Italy's "boot", Sicily is offering major savings on holidays. In a striking move that will delight island-lovers everywhere, the regional government has announced it will cover half of flight prices and one third of hotel stays. Read the full story.

    Calls for co-ordinated European aviation approach to drive recovery

    Eamonn Brennan, Director General of EUROCONTROL (the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation), has tweeted that with a coordinated approach, European aviation could begin to recover as early as mid-June. This could spell great news for travellers, who may be able to take to the skies again sooner than we thought.

    27.04 - Boris is back

    • In his first public address since recovering from Covid-19, Boris Johnson says that the UK is turning the tide on coronavirus but urges UK residents to continue respecting the lockdown.
    • European countries – including Germany, Norway and Spain – prepare to ease their lockdown restrictions.
    • With no new community cases of coronavirus, New Zealand claims "elimination" of the virus and lifts its lockdown.
    • US states continue to lift lockdown restrictions as the country's economy takes a battering.

    Argentina announces it will block the sale of all commercial flights until September.

    Argentina has taken the bold move of banning the sale of all commercial flights in and out of the country until September – one of the strictest travel bans in the world. Though many other countries around the globe have issued a freeze on "all but essential" travel, generally these restrictions are for the time being – with the aim to welcome visitors back as soon as possible – rather than setting a deadline months into the future. Here at Rough Guides, we're hoping this means its South American neighbours will be open to travellers a little earlier! While the National Civil Aviation Administration signed the degree in Argentina, there was outcry from the industry, which feels the outright ban could prove crippling. Read the full story.

    Greece's tourism minister says there will be new rules affecting hotels, pools and beaches in light of coronavirus.

    As Greece prepares to lifts its lockdown restrictions, the government is also looking ahead and reimagining its tourist industry. This beautiful nation is heavily reliant on tourism, a mainstay of the economy which provides twenty percent of its GDP and employs one in five of its citizens. Though it's not entirely clear what the "specific new rules" are under which the industry will tentatively reopen, measures could include physical distancing at hotels and pools – and even leaving the middle seat in the plane empty. Read the full story.

    Visit our blog on travelling during the coronavirus outbreak to see how your future travel plans might be affected.

    Top image © Cat Box/Shutterstock

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