After a year of stay-at-home orders, many people are itching to finally get out of the house and explore a foreign land.
The past year has been pretty boring travel-wise, with most countries worldwide shutting their borders in light of the pandemic. No travel for leisure, except for a select few, were permitted.
The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the present global crisis. Flights are grounded. Hotels remain empty. Restaurants are only serving takeouts. For the first time in a long time, famous landmarks were deserted of tourists. New York’s Times Square, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, the Louvre in Paris, and all other tourist attractions that once were teeming with people were abandoned during the pandemic.
However, now that nations have started vaccinations, the outlook is more optimistic. Many people have started planning their first getaway in over a year.
Will Vaccines Revive Tourism?
The United States and the United Kingdom started vaccination campaigns early. Both nations inoculated their healthcare workers in December and, now, are in the process of providing immunity against the spreading virus to the adult population. By summer, the U.S. and the UK expect to see some level of normalcy to return.
Achieving herd immunity in the U.S. and the UK does not mean travel for leisure can resume. While locally, transmission can resume, overseas, the situation might not be as ideal.
There are countries that, even without the vaccine, managed to escape the pandemic. Singapore did so by implementing strict control over whoever enters the border. People from other nations have to secure a negative test first before and quarantine for two weeks before integrating with Singaporeans.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a previous interview that his government discussed mutual recognition of vaccine certificates with other countries. This means that it might not be too premature to start searching for where to eat in Singapore or where to go to a party with Singaporeans. If approved, tourists who have been vaccinated may be able to enter the island-nation for tourism purposes.
Singapore, too, has begun vaccinations of its nearly six million population. They expect to achieve herd immunity later this year.
However, the situation is not as rosy in other countries.
In Brazil, one of the hardest-hit nations globally, a more infectious strain of the virus is spreading. Vaccinations have started, but supplies are not coming. The same is happening in the Philippines, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Poland. For many of these places, traveling for leisure likely will not resume any time soon, even if the tourist has been vaccinated.
Why Getting the Vaccine May Be Enough?
If all Americans received their vaccines, they would be protected from COVID-19. However, it would not be an impenetrable shield against the virus. Both Pfizer and Moderna have a 90+ efficacy rate against mild forms of the disease. They will not be hospitalized for it. However, they can still catch it.
Moreover, being protected does not mean you cannot carry it and pass it on to someone else. Traveling domestically once the U.S. achieves herd immunity will be safe. However, going to Brazil or the Philippines might not. Unless you plan to visit a country where people have also been vaccinated or where community transmission is minimized, it is best to cancel your trip and wait a little longer before you start exploring the world again.
Where Can You Go Once Vaccinated?
As early as now, some places have started opening their borders to American tourists — as long as they can prove that they have received the COVID-19 vaccines.
Belize is the first Caribbean nation to announce that it will accept vaccinated tourists. As long as they have received the two doses of a government-approved vaccine, no negative COVID-19 test will be required.
Iceland also recently welcomed back American citizens who have immunity to the disease, whether through prior infection or by receiving vaccinations. They no longer will need to take a PCR test at the border or quarantine for five days after arrival in the nation.
Other countries that accept vaccinated tourists from the U.S. include Cyprus, Lebanon, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Slovenia, Estonia, Seychelles, and Thailand.
Vaccinations offer a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel. It is a sign that this virus, which caused a deadly pandemic, will cease to exist. However, because of inequality in vaccine allocations and the lack of supply, for many nations, a return to normalcy will unlikely happen any time soon.