We are slowly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after months of quarantine, strict border controls and travel bans. And we couldn’t be happier as countries around the world are buddying-up to kickstart tourism. So it might be time to start planning your next vacay!
Travel bubbles have also been labelled travel bridges or corona corridors, and are basically groups of countries that have agreed to open their borders to each other.
We can think of them as an extension of our social bubbles, which slowly expanded as quarantine rules relaxed. People can move freely within the bubble, but only those coming from a safe quarantine zone are allowed in.
Neighboring countries that have a similar approach to the epidemic, and have somewhat controlled their coronavirus outbreaks, are teaming-up to create a low-risk travel environment for their residents.
We are all aware of the grave economic impact that COVID-19 has had around the world. And from a Travel Industry perspective, the U.N. World Tourism Organization estimates that international tourism could decline by up to 80 percent this year compared to 2019, putting at least 100 million jobs at risk.
These travel bubbles are a very first step for countries trying to kickstart their travel and tourism industries. With the plan being to expand the bubble to include other countries if the rate of infection remains low, or even better at zero!
Australia and New Zealand were the first countries to talk about creating a travel corridor between the two nations. Both countries’ borders are still closed, but the two governments are discussing how to proceed once it will be safe to reopen the borders. Right now, both countries still have domestic travel restrictions in place, along with a 14-day quarantine requirement for international visitors.
The Baltic countries–Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania–have already reopened their borders to each other with their citizens and residents free to move between the three nations. If the virus levels stay low, Finland and Poland may be next to join this travel bubble.
Germany is planning to reopen its borders with France, Austria, Denmark, and Switzerland on June 15, as long as the rate of infection remains low and manageable.
The Czech Republic is planning to reopen its borders with Austria, Slovakia, and Croatia on June 8.
The Nordic countries–Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland–are in the process of starting their own travel bubble.
Beijing is considering expanding its travel bubble to cover mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and South Korea.
Israel is planning to get in a bubble with Greece and Cyprus.
Vietnam and Thailand are also in discussion on creating their own travel bubble.
Hungary and Romania have opened their borders with each other.
The UK is in discussions with France and Portugal to allow tourists to bypass quarantine restrictions.
Author: Debra Pally is the Swiss/Australian CEO of Flyaway Designs and inventor of Flyaway Kids Bed – an award-winning travel bed that helps children sleep and play on planes. She has 2 young boys and lives in Zurich, Switzerland.