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COVID-19 Travel Regulation Updates
Many places have eased or entirely dropped remaining COVID-era entry requirements. Below, we take a look at the latest from popular destinations around the world.
Destinations that have DROPPED remaining COVID travel restrictions
France and Malta both lifted all remaining COVID-19-related border restrictions. All travelers can now enter the countries without proof of vaccination or negative tests. They join the majority of other European countries in dropping COVID-era travel restrictions.
The Cayman Islands government announced that effective August 24, it has dropped all remaining COVID-19 travel restrictions. All travelers — vaccinated and unvaccinated — are permitted to enter the Cayman Islands without any additional documents or COVID-related health measures.
Destinations that have EASED remaining COVID travel restrictions
New Zealand, which maintained some of the world’s strongest COVID-related restrictions, reopened its borders on August 1. Visitors will still need to show proof of full vaccination to enter. You must complete a declaration and receive a Traveller Pass before travel. New Zealand Traveller Declaration
Japan is considering more than doubling the number of people it will allow into the country, from 20,000 to 50,000, and has waived pre-departure COVID-19 tests for vaccinated travelers. On August 18, Japan introduced a new eVisa system to allow U.S. citizens to resume travel to Japan. Applicants will need to create an account online and complete an electronic questionnaire. Learn more.
Worth Noting - the application and review process for entry into Japan may take an extended period of time, so it is recommended that travelers wanting to visit Japan apply “well in advance of your planned trip.” Additionally, even with the eVisa system, tourism is only allowed in cases where group travelers are sponsored by a travel agent and/or are part of an authorized travel group located in Japan.
In Europe, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Spain have eased requirements, but these countries still require non-EU travelers to present a valid vaccination certificate or a recovery certificate in order to be allowed entry.
State of Air Travel
Where to start with air travel? As you are likely aware, travel via air has been…a challenge. What was supposed to be a summer of revenge travel quickly turned into a summer of travel chaos. According to this article from Forbes Advisor, 61% of summer travelers had flights delayed or canceled and 83% lost money.
And in a release on Friday, August 26, the U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) reported that U.S. air travel service complaints jumped 35% in June over the previous month, or nearly 270% over pre-pandemic levels, even though carriers in June flew only 86% as many flights as they flew in June 2019. And that isn't even counting the main Summer travel months.
In its August Air Travel Consumer Report, USDOT reports that for domestic flights, Alaska Airlines Network, Delta Airlines Network, and Hawaiian Airlines had the highest on-time arrival rates in June, and Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways, and Frontier Airlines had the lowest. Hawaiian and Alaska also topped the list for lowest rates of canceled flights, with Frontier rounding out the top three. At the bottom of the list American Airlines Network, Delta, and United Airlines Network had the highest rate of canceled flights.
Prior to the upcoming Labor Day holiday, USDOT plans to create an interactive dashboard for air travelers to compare the services or amenities that each of the largest U.S. airlines provides when cancellations or delays are due to circumstances within the airline’s control.
Heading into the fall season, in an effort to balance staffing shortages and the number of necessary flights, airlines have eliminated routes from their fall schedules. American Airlines cut 31,000 flights — about 16% — in November alone. United Airlines, JetBlue, and Delta have also made cuts, and across the pond, British Airways has cut its schedule by around 8%. What does this mean for fall travel? Mike Arnot, an airline industry commentator and spokesman for Cirium, told Conde Nast Traveler, “It means generally the flights that do fly this holiday season will be more full, with less opportunities to upgrade, for example, and higher fares.”
If you have plans to travel this fall, booking early is your best bet for less expensive fares, as we discuss in our recent Fall Travel Planning blog.
Cruise Lines Relax Guidelines, Start Wave Season Early
While airlines are cutting flights, the cruise lines are adding more sailings and easing up on vaccination and testing requirements. July was a big month for cruise lines, with the CDC ending the COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships and effectively giving the cruise lines back the ability to set their own guidelines. That led to most major cruise lines dropping testing requirements for vaccinated cruise-goers and some allowing unvaccinated cruise enthusiasts more of an opportunity to join the party at sea, beginning with August and September cruises.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean are already operating under new protocols, with testing no longer required for vaccinated cruise-goers on cruises that are five days or less. Virgin Voyages removed their testing requirements for vaccinated guests, regardless of cruise length, at the end of July, with Norwegian Cruise Lines and Princess following suit beginning September 3 and 6, respectively. Viking and Disney Cruise Lines still require guests to be vaccinated, though Viking does not require a pre-departure test and Disney still does.
To celebrate the news, many of the cruise lines have started offering the deep discounts typically reserved for the beginning of wave season in January, so if you are on the fence about if or when to book your next cruise, now is the time!
Read more in our Updated Cruise Guidelines blog.
In Other Travel News...
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
High-altitude climbers making the trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa can now live stream their ascent, thanks to newly-installed high-speed internet around the mountain's slopes, according to this CNN.com article. In addition to the obvious social media benefits, this is also a safety measure. Access to high-speed internet will help improve climbers’ awareness and help to guide their climb up the 19,000-foot mountain, Africa’s highest peak.
Pssst...Did you know Trawick International insures high-altitude climbers? Check out the SafeTreker plans for your next climb!
Beer, Brezen, and Bavarian Music
After a two-year hiatus thanks to, you guessed it, COVID-19, Oktoberfest is back! From September 17 – October 3, Munich’s Theresienwiese fairground will be taken over by close to 40 tents big and small, beer gardens, carnival rides, and all the brezen (pretzels), Bavarian music, and traditional (and not so traditional!) foods of Oktoberfest. New this year is the "Wiesnpaket" combination offer for individuals starting at 79 euros (depending on the tent). It includes a reserved seat in a festival tent with food and beer tokens, a guided tour with an official guide, and, of course, an official Oktoberfest stein to take home. Prost! Visit the official Oktoberfest website