World Now More Open Than Closed?

October 2022 marks a turning point for pandemic travel—more countries around the world now welcome American travelers without the need for any pandemic-related travel restrictions than those which require some form of testing or a booster for entry.

As the travel industry turns its attention to rising energy prices, how to find fuel and the fact that demand for flights and hotels is outstripping supply, it might be easy to forget that the pandemic is still having an impact upon travel.

But 109 countries still have travel restrictions in place (quarantines and/or testing), while 118 are completely open (including the news this month that Canada, Japan and Australia’s doors are now wide open to overseas travelers).

This new reopening is proven by the fact that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stopped its country-by-country travel health advisories, which have been a mainstay of travel alerts since the pandemic began and borders closed.

However, it is still the case that more countries are open to tourists that are fully vaccinated.

This end to the Covid-19 red tape will be good news to the millions more people planning to travel during the fall than ever before, all of them searching amongst larger than usual crowds and less availability. A recent TripIt survey found that the bulk of people questioned would be traveling until mid November, many of those domestically across the U.S. and everyone is expecting more disruption than usual. As Bloomberg reported, “inflation and aggravation may be strong, but wanderlust is stronger.”

Skytra, a ticketing database and subsidiary of Airbus, reported a recovery between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. Elise Weber, CEO, said that “Hong Kong is relaxing its quarantine rules for international arrivals and we have seen airlines such as British Airways announce plans to resume flights between London and Tokyo.”

So where to go? Whilst countries are much more open, with so many things to worry about—the war in Ukraine, the cost of running our homes, the climate—that it makes sense to travel somewhere with minimal red tape.

A recent roundup by Bloomberg found that 30 more countries had recently dropped travel restrictions, including Bhutan (for the first time since the pandemic emerged) and Japan from 11 October (unvaccinated travelers from some countries will still need to test for the latter).

It is worth understanding, however, that there is still some Covid-19 travel restriction red tape to navigate. For instance, Canada requires all over 11s to be vaccinated, so British families might find that challenging when vaccination rates for teenagers is around 50-60% in the U.K. Likewise, there are still stringent mask rules in place across Japan, Chile and South Korea, countries that are now technically open.

It’s also worth noting that the State Department updated its travel advisories to take out health advisories but to update American travelers on the risk of terrorism—making changes to 98 countries. France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. are all at Level 2—exercise caution.

With winter approaching and a possible uptick in cases, it seems sensible therefore, that travelers continue to keep an eye on global travel restrictions for a while longer—to be absolutely sure of zero long-haul holiday upsets.


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