FEATURE: ’Covid-19 tourism’ – how countries are attracting tourists

Several countries have introduced initiatives to entice tourists amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on the travel and tourism industry.

Thailand tourist spot.
More than 200 tourists arrived on the opening day of Phuket’s quarantine-free tourism programme, which started on July 1. Picture: Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

CAPE TOWN, July 5 (ANA) – While the Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every sector negatively or positively, the travel and tourism industry has been among the hardest hit.

Over the past few months, several countries have slowly reopened their borders to international travellers in their bid to revive their economies, with some setting up a “travel bubble” with trusted neighbours in order to boost travel traffic.

However, the coronavirus Delta variant which was first detected in India has spread rapidly across the globe and forced these countries to reintroduce lockdown restrictions.

On June 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in a press conference that the variant which has spread to at least 85 counties was the most transmissible discovered so far.

What have countries done in order to revive their tourism industry?

1) THAILAND

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), more than 200 tourists arrived on the opening day of Phuket’s quarantine-free tourism programme, which started on July 1.

The pilot programme, known as “Phuket Sandbox”, allows for fully vaccinated tourists to visit the resort island. Meanwhile, 70% of Phuket’s residents have had at least one vaccine dose.

Visitors will need to have a negative Covid-19 test not more than 72 hours old, then undergo three Covid-19 tests in Thailand, with the first one on arrival, and finally to install a tracking app on their mobile devices.

2) ITALY

Italy had some of the highest death rates and infection cases in the early stages of the global pandemic. Known for its history, culture and cuisine, Italy attracted more than 94 million tourists prior to the pandemic in 2019.

The official tourism website for the city of Sicily announced that travellers to the city would receive half their airfare reimbursed by the government and may also receive a free overnight stay for every three nights’ stay.

3) AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

In April, Australia and New Zealand set up a travel bubble which allowed for quarantine-free travel between the two countries after a year of having their borders closed.

Not only did eager travellers benefit from the agreement, but also families who got to reunite with their loved ones.

4) SOUTH AFRICA

The South African government announced the reopening of its borders in November 2020, with visitors expected to produce proof of a negative Covid-19 certificate taken 72 hours before departure.

Prior to the reopening, the local tourism industry embarked on both local and international campaigns such as “We Are Worth Waiting For!” with the intention of reminding potential visitors what was on offer. Also, various safaris, bird parks and other touristy hot spots offered virtual trips to help them keep the industry alive.

5) CYPRUS

According to CNBC, the Cyprus government offered free medical care, accommodation and food for travellers who got infected during their visit.

They pledged that a Covid-19 hospital with 100 beds was ready exclusively for visitors and secured 500 rooms in dedicated quarantine hotels.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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