This month: Hurricane Ian | COVID-19 Updates | Japan | Hispanic Heritage Month
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Hurricane Ian Travel Updates
Hurricane Ian hit Florida’s west coast this week as a category 4 storm. To put that into perspective for those who may not be too familiar with hurricanes, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) states that a category 4 storm will have wind speeds of up to 156mph and can potentially leave the affected area without power and water for weeks or even months. This level of hurricane is expected to bring “catastrophic damage” to the affected areas.
At the time of writing, the storm made landfall between Cape Coral and Tampa Florida. These coastal towns are at very high risks for storm surge flooding, waterspouts, and incredible wind damage. So, what does this mean for travel in, around, and through Florida?
First, airport closures: Thousands of flights have been canceled due to Tampa International Airport (TPA), Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), and Orlando International Airport (MCO) closures. Whilst reopening is dependent on it being deemed safe for the airports to resume operations, many are expected to reopen sometime Friday. Airline passengers flying through these airports should check with their specific airlines for the latest flight information. The airports' Twitter accounts - TPA, JAX, and MCO - will be giving live updates about reopening times once the date is confirmed and damage from the storm can be assessed.
Second, the cruise industry is facing massive interruptions due to the storm. According to this article from ThePointsGuy, at least five cruise ships are stuck at sea, waiting for the hurricane to pass. This comes from the closure of three major cruise ports in Florida earlier in the week. At least three of these ships were due back at Port Canaveral on Thursday morning, but will now be at sea until Friday morning, if not longer. These delays are currently affecting nearly 20,000 cruisers.
How could travel insurance have helped during this? First, you should know that you MUST purchase a trip cancellation policy before a storm is named to be eligible for coverage due to the hurricane. A Trip Cancellation plan from Trawick International is the best option, as it has comprehensive coverage for trip cancellations, trip interruptions, and even travel delays. To learn more about travel insurance benefits during a hurricane, read our 2022 Hurricane Season Blog.
COVID-19 Travel Updates in Europe
Last month, we reported that in Europe, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Spain had all eased COVID-19 entry requirements, but were still requiring non-EU travelers to present a valid vaccination certificate or a recovery certificate in order to be allowed entry.
As of Saturday, September 19, the Netherlands has removed all remaining Coronavirus entry restrictions, including those traveling from non-EU countries. This means travelers are no longer required to show any proof of vaccination or recovery certificate to be permitted to enter the country.
Similarly, as of September 22, Spain has further eased its requirements for travelers in the European Union, doing away with its travel health portal that previously had travelers complete documentation stating if they were vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative for COVID-19. Those traveling from non-EU countries will still be required to present a vaccination, recovery, or test certificate, according to the SchengenVisa News website.
As of this time, there are no changes in the entry requirements for Luxembourg, at least until September 30. Travelers who are not residents of any of the European Union or Schengen Area countries will remain subject to restrictions due to the country’s continuous attempts to prevent another outbreak of the virus within its territory. Read more about Luxembourg travel requirements here.
Japan Set to Reopen in October
Starting October 11, Japan will remove all of its remaining entry requirements and allow for normal tourism to resume. The country will also allow individual tourists to enter the country visa-free, which is especially great news for Americans heading to Japan. The process of obtaining a visa for entry was no easy task before this, and removing it also removes a lot of travel burden for people wanting to travel to the country.
Japan has been one of the most anticipated countries for reopening, as their strict conditions did not allow for any foreigners to enter for tourism until June of this year. Even then, it was still incredibly daunting for tourists to obtain a visa. Travelers heading to Japan before had to book through a tour operator and were not allowed to leave their tour group for any reason during their visit.
Although travelers will no longer be required to obtain a visa and book travel through a tour provider, some restrictions remain in place, such as all visitors entering the country must have received three shots of a COVID-19 vaccine or take a pre-arrival PCR test. If you’re fully vaccinated, you will not have to take a pre-departure test. Mask use is still very much encouraged and recommended by the local government, especially on public transportation.
A good thing to keep in mind before heading to Japan, or any country outside of your home country, is that your medical insurance will most likely not cover you in a foreign country. Our travel medical travel insurance plans offer comprehensive medical coverage in the case of injury or illness while abroad, and cover COVID-19 as any other illness.
Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15 in the United States. This month is used for reflection and recognition of the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans to the culture, history, and diversity of the United States.
So, where are the best spots to travel to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month? A few popular spots include Guadalajara, Mexico, Chicago, Illinois, and even Tampa, Florida, pending no major damage from Hurricane Ian.
In Guadalajara, you can feel the rich history that lines the streets of the city. This is also considered the birthplace of mariachi music, and is one of the epicenters of tequila production for the world. Between the ornate churches such as the Guadalajara Cathedral and the largest indoor market in Latin America, you will always find something to do here!
Looking to celebrate stateside? Chicago is the place to be to indulge your taste buds. In some of the city's historically Latino neighborhoods, you’ll find traditional Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Ecuadorian cuisines everywhere you turn. To learn a little about Hispanic art, The National Museum of Mexican Art and the Somos Pilsen art mural are can’t-miss stops while in the city. Chichago will also host the 5th Chicago International Latino Theater Festival through the entirety of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Tampa makes this list because of its rich Cuban history, which can be seen at the Tampa Bay History Center. Cuban Pathways: The Exhibition follows 500 years of Cuban migration history to the Tampa Bay area and paints an incredible picture of how the Cuban community has influenced the area. And if you’re in town on October 9th, you'll get to enjoy Viva Tampa Bay, which is a Hispanic Heritage Festival hosting live music, vendors, and food!