Good news for travellers – Countries slowly reopening borders and making plans
It may have felt like all hope was lost for travel, but gradually things are beginning to look more hopeful for this year. Obviously, there is a foreign office warning against all but essential travel. This is likely to invalidate your insurance and as we are in lockdown, we are not going anywhere for a while. Hopefully, the FCO will see sense soon and start either giving an end date (which could be extended) or looking per country as many countries have far fewer cases of COVID-19 than the UK.
Here is a round-up of countries that are making plans to reopen:
Currently, all international flights to Thailand are banned until 30 June 2020. However, Thailand are currently formulating plans to re-open to tourism with some interesting proposals. Thailand had a small number of coronavirus with about 3,000 and only 56 deaths to date. They have already been easing lockdown restrictions gradually since early May. Thai authorities are looking at safe ways to reopen such as allowing domestic tourism first followed by other Asian countries that have the epidemic under control such as South Korea. Finally, they are considering other countries in late 2020.
There are also plans proposed to limit tourists to particularly less densely populated area such as the islands.
“This will be beneficial for both tourists and local residents since this is almost a kind of quarantine,” says Tourism Authority of Thailand Governor Yuthasak Supasorn.
This could mean that you must have a connecting flight booked to an island as part of the entry into the country and would not be allowed to enter Thailand except through specific airports.
Last week, the government approved a decree which will allow international travel to and from Italy from 3 June 2020. Free travel within Italy will also be permitted from the same day. As yet there are no restrictions on which countries will be allowed entry or any quarantine measures. Shops and restaurants are allowed to reopen under social distancing measures from today.
Greece has had a low infection rate and last week the Prime Minister declared they were planning to reopen from 1 July.
“If things go according to plan, we’ll be open by 1 July,” prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said last week. “Europe’s tourism pie is going to be much smaller, but this summer we want a bigger part of it.”
Currently there are no restrictions for EU citizens (including UK nationals) and members of their families to enter Holland. There are health questionnaires but no quarantine period.
Spain is introducing a 14 day quarantine period for new arrivals which is likely to run until the end of the state of emergency. Predictions are this will be until at least the end of June. You are only allowed out only to buy food or medicine, seek medical attention, or on emergency grounds. Some areas have been given permission to open hotels.
If you are not sure which hotel loyalty scheme to go for, in the current situation it could be worth going for Hotels.com. Given that many hotel chains have extended status for a good period, Hotels.com offers the chance to earn a free night after 10 stays usually. You can read all about the scheme in this article.
From now until 24 May for travel until 31 August 2o21, you can collect double stamps. This means with 5 stays, you get a free night instead of the usually required 10 nights
You need to use code: RWD2X2020 and must be signed into your account when booking.
You can only use the coupon on properties that are eligible for Hotels.com® Rewards and are marked with a ‘Collect double stamps’ badge on the Hotels.com® website.
Redemptions are limited to the first 12,444 coupons used.
A reward night does not include taxes and you must also pay a redemption fee when you redeem your reward night on the desktop/mobile website. You will not be charged a redemption fee when you redeem your reward night on the mobile app.
The coupon cannot be used for bookings paid for at the property and only applies to the first room of your booking.
You can find the offer page here.
Lufthansa Group finally extends status and improves refunds
Lufthansa and Swiss have been high up on my list of airlines behaving badly. No refunds for customers claiming their refund department was “closed” until the end of the summer, no status extensions for status holders.
Fortunately, they seem to have finally seen the light:
- Lufthansa and Swiss (and all group airlines) will now extend your current status by one year if it expires by February 2021.
- The validity of eVouchers with an expiry date during 2020 will be extended until the end of 2021.
- They will also maintain the current program rules until December 31, 2021, and the new system will not be launched until January 1, 2022.
- Refunds are possible and increasing their capacity in order to process refunds more quickly. Perhaps the refund department is open again?? Nothing to do with pressure from the EU Commission that they must give refunds….