International Travel

Some European countries are re-opening their borders

Depending on the restrictions in your country or area, many people are looking forward to the ability to travel to different countries on vacation again and with the global rollout of vaccinations against coronavirus, that is once again looking like a very attainable possibility.

In a bid to re-start the very lucrative, and for many countries central, tourism industry, some countries have now began opening their borders. However, access may be dependent on a number of variables depending on the country – from whether you need proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, to what country you are entering from. 

The popular destination, Italy is among those to open its borders again to some visitors. Those from the EU countries, the Schengen travel zone, Australia, Japan and some other countries will be allowed in, however those from countries such as the UK and Brazil are not allowed to travel into Italy due to the emergence of virus variants in said countries. Time Out writes: 

‘New rules also mean that you might be required to provide a negative test result on arrival. If you’re entering the country from within the Schengen area, you will now be asked to provide evidence that you received a negative result in a test administered in the 48 hours before travel (or face quarantine).

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Travelers from Austria and outside the Schengen area will instead be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. All international visitors, from any country, must also fill out this ‘travel declaration form’ before departure. You should also note that Italy has brought in a tiered lockdown system, with the country split into ‘yellow’, ‘orange’ and ‘red’ areas depending on how rampant the virus is. For the moment, most of the country is considered ‘red’, which means bars, restaurants and all other non-essential businesses are closed.’

Greece, was a country campaigning for the use of a digital vaccine pass in order to re-open its tourism industry, on which its economy heavily relies. They now have begun lifting lockdown restrictions to the EU, Schengen member states, the UK and other countries such as Australia, Japan, Israel, Turkey and some more. Those countries that are not in the list may not travel. 

The majority of EU countries are allowing travelers within the EU to travel freely, and a handful of other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are also allowed entry at the time of writing this article. This list is evolving and changing depending on rising or falling infection rates. The UK for example, has been taken off of many countries’ ‘entry’ list due to the new strain that evolved from the country last year.  

The EU recently put forward a proposal for vaccine passports In a bid to create a system that will allow tourism to restart in Europe by the summer. The BBC explains: 

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‘The aim of the EU pass is to get travel moving across borders, “without discrimination”, but getting it all organized in a short space of time will be a significant challenge. EU leaders have called for legal and technical work to go ahead “as a matter of urgency” while maintaining restrictions on non-essential travel for the moment. The original plan is for the certificate to be in place for the summer but that deadline could be hard to meet. The certificate, either digital or on paper, will enable anyone vaccinated against Covid, or who has tested negative, or recently recovered from the virus, to travel across all 27 member states.

The EU also wants to include non-EU countries such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. Key to the digital certificate is a QR code – a machine-readable graphic code made up of black and white squares – that contains personal data and the EU’s Commission says it will be safe and secure. It is working with the World Health Organization to ensure the certificate is recognized beyond Europe. ’

Places like Denmark will use the pass to also allow access to access services within the country, such as hairdressers and restaurants. Sweden is also considering this application. 

Some countries such as Iceland have already opened its borders to vaccinated travellers, so those who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19 (and can prove it) should be able to enter the country. However, before you attempt to travel anywhere, be sure to check the rules and restrictions for both your destination and the country that you are travelling from. You may need to also check the rules for re-entering your home country, whether this is to provide a negative COVID test or quarantine in a hotel or no-restrictions at all. Be aware that the pace of the pandemic has meant that rules are changing rather quickly, so be prepared to adapt to new restrictions and regularly update yourself on the safety guidelines. 

Alcohol Drinks

New York’s Newest Hidden Subway Speakeasy Has A 900-Person Reservation List

La Noxe is New York’s newest speakeasy, and has already gained a slew of attention from citizens looking for the most unique experiences that the city has to offer. Jey Perie is the founder of the establishment, and he’s known for his former ownership of the Williamsburg dance club Kinfolk.

“[In] early 2019, I was looking for any interesting locations that would allow me to develop my own take on a nightlife establishment. I lived in Tokyo for six years and was impacted by the restaurants, bars, and clubs I frequented while I was there. As soon as I came across the space underground at 28th Street, I instantly knew that was the spot,” he explained.

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The venue is located at 315 Seventh Avenue, and is described as a mixture of 70s Mexican architecture inspired by Luis Barragán, as well as Perie’s experiences living in Tokyo and Barcelona. Perie said he wanted to create an “oasis of cultures and influences” within the space, and after working with the city’s MTA and Department of Buildings, his dreams were able to become a reality in March 2020; unfortunately the coronavirus had other plans.

The bar was initially projected to open fully on June 9th, but instead has now secretly opened to serve coffee, sandwiches, and fresh cold-pressed juices. The establishment also offers cocktails and to-go wine with any food purchase. After the delays and multiple pandemic-related hurdles, the speakeasy fully opened by reservation only in October.

After 12 weeks of being open, the speakeasy had to pause before reopening in mid-February. Currently, La Noxe is serving food and drinks on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and yes, it’s still by reservation only. The venue itself can only hold 15 people at a time due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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“Every day, we are hosting amazing new guests, many of whom I hope will become regulars. Our goal is to build a strong community of people who love great food, cocktails, wine, and music. The goal is to eventually open until 4 a.m. to truly embrace the nightlife scene. We are definitely not trying to be a tourist attraction. We believe the right people will always find their way to La Noxe,” Perie explained.

The restaurant side of the business serves a variety of seafood options such as “daily catch ceviche, bass tiradito, and shrimp vuelve a la vida with tostones. The house drinks include Forbidden Love (aloe, cucumber, lemon, and vodka) and the La Noux Banana Daiquiri (banana liqueur, Jamaican bitters, and charanda).”

Perie explained to the press that “the focus of La Noxe is its drinks, but it’s the atmosphere that truly stands out. The size and location of the room will make you feel like you are partying for a few hours in the apartment of an eccentric artist circa 1977. But first and foremost, La Noxe is a New York experience.”

CDC Tells Americans To ‘Limit Travel’ As Covid-19 Surges Continue Throughout Nation 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Americans a stark warning this week, claiming that they should limit all travel, as Covid-19 cases are beginning to spike throughout the nation again, despite the roll out of multiple vaccines. 

Dr. Rochelle Walenshy is the director of the CDC, who said that travel is helping spread the coronavirus, as it has been for the past year now. During a White House briefing she said: “I would just sort of reiterate the recommendations from the CDC that tell us to please limit travel to essential travel only for the time being.”

Walensky warned Americans of an “impending doom” if they continue to go about their lives as they currently are. She even went as far as to express that she herself was scared for the future of the nation. 

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“We must act now, and I am worries that if we don’t take the right actions now, we will have another avoidable surge, just like we’re seeing in Europe right now and just as we are so aggressively scaling up vaccinations.” 

President Joe Biden has also asked all state officials to reinstate mask mandates to continue to combat the pandemic. Biden claimed that reckless behavior is leading to the virus spreading again. 

“People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains. This is not a time to lessen our efforts.. We could still see a setback in the vaccination program. And most importantly, if we let our guard down now we could see a virus getting worse, not better,” Biden proclaimed. 

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As previously mentioned, these warnings are a result of new Covid cases rising throughout the country. According to the New York Times official Covid-19 dashboard new cases have been rising by 15% for the past two weeks, and the CDC blames that rise on an increase in travel. 

TSA data shows that more than one million people have been walking throughout the airports everyday since the beginning of March. For comparison at this point last year TSA screened around 180,000 people. 

The CDC is highly recommending everyone continue to abide by proper health and safety procedures until a greater herd immunity is met, and that includes not traveling even if you’re fully vaccinated. 

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have proven to be highly effective in the real world when it comes to preventing the transmission of Covid-19, however, the CDC thinks Americans are getting too comfortable too quickly, and need to continue to be patient until the rest of the nation can catch up with vaccinations.

Covid-19 Immunity Passport

EU Officially Proposed Vaccine Passport Scheme

The idea of digital COVID passports or vaccine passports have been floating around or under discussion for some time. Globally, countries are still battling with the coronavirus pandemic and rolling out their own vaccination programs. However, it will still take some time to effectively vaccinate much of the population and render the COVID-19 virus low threat. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on much of our lives and of course, many countries economies. As travel is limited or on hold for much of the world, governments globally are thinking of how they can safely open their borders to restart the lucrative tourism industry. The notion of vaccine passports was proposed as a way of doing just that.

The ‘passport’ would allow a person who has obtained a full COVID vaccination to travel freely in participating countries – or with fewer restrictions according to the guidelines set by the chosen country. After much deliberation, the European Union (EU) has put forward an official proposal to launch the passport scheme within EU countries, with the intention of launching it before the summer.

The European Commission recently proposed the vaccine pass, to allow freedom of movement in a “safe, responsible and trusted manner”. It is hoped that it will allow its 450 million residents travel freely across EU countries by the summer – it has also proposed the possible inclusion of some non-EU states that are closely affiliated with the EU, such as Norway, Iceland and possibly Switzerland. 

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Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU Commission stated that the EU “can achieve our target to have 70% of adults fully vaccinated by the end of summer” and the pass would “common path to a gradual, safe and lasting re-opening”.  The 27-member states will decide on how to use the new digital certificate, whether that would be enjoying travel without restrictions or less restrictions. Currently, the vaccines accepted are those approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which currently include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. However, guidelines may allow for member states to individually accept vaccination certificates from other COVID-19 vaccines. 

Time Out reported: ‘Didier Reynders, the European justice commissioner, yesterday said the pass would be ‘for all EU citizens’, as well as travelers from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the four European Free Trade Association countries). The aim of the scheme is to allow anyone who has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has recently tested negative or has recovered from the virus to travel more freely across European borders. Reynders added that there was still a lot of work to be done before the passes can be introduced, but that he hoped the scheme would be in place in time for the summer tourist season.’ 

The proposal stated that if any of the EU’s 27-member states allowed vaccinated travelers from one country to skip restrictions they must to do for travelers of all the other countries. Indicating that the EU is aiming for a universal approach to implement the ‘digital green pass’, at least in Europe. Some countries such as Spain and Greece, have been campaigning for a vaccine pass, as their economy relies heavily on their tourism industries.

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There has been a lot of criticism towards the idea of vaccine passes on ethical grounds even before the EU’s proposal. The use of a vaccine pass could make way for much discrimination for those who did not or could not obtain the vaccination. Further those people, such as young people who are not a priority for vaccination would face quarantine restrictions whilst others would not. This may also force some who would rather not take the vaccination to get it. Further, the data demonstrating how efficient the vaccine is on preventing a person from carrying or passing the coronavirus, is still incomplete. So, inoculations may not halt the spread of the virus completely. 

Some countries such as Iceland, are already allowing vaccinated travelers in from any country. Time Out reported: ‘Now, as of March 18, any travelers – including those from the US and the UK – who have been fully vaccinated can travel to Iceland and not have to undergo testing or quarantine. This was an update from a previous policy announced earlier this year that allowed vaccinated travelers from the EU only to enter the country and skip testing and quarantine.’

Whether or not the world adopts a universal vaccine passport scheme, it seems that some countries or tour providers are independently making the decision to lower restrictions or simply letting persons travel into said country with certain ‘passes’ – whether a negative COVID test or full vaccination. 

Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum

Unique Museums Around The World

To you, museums may be cornucopias rich with information, stories and histories, transporting you to different time periods, providing the gift of knowledge and tending to your every nerdy whim. Or, you may see them as stuffy, boring buildings and would much rather be indulging in other locations rich in culture. There are millions of museums around the world, from the big to the small, focusing on a wide range of topics, or placing their focus in one niche. There are some museums that you need to go to, just for their sheer uniqueness. 

Underwater Museums

There is certainly nothing stuffy about an underwater museum, the treasures of which you can only see whilst diving or sometimes snorkeling. These museums are often a series of sculptures purposefully sunk and making for a unique experience. Cancun, Mexico, is home to the very popular ‘MUSA’ or the ‘Museo Subacuático de Arte’ and was created by British sculptor Jason De Caires Taylor. Cancun is a world preservation site and is a popular destination for divers for its rich marine life – making the underwater museum an excellent location. 

There are several versions of underwater museums around the world, a newly opened underwater exhibit in France features several sculptures, again from Jason De Caires Taylor, which divers and snorkelers can explore. The museum is located off the coast of the French Island, Île Sainte-Marguerite, Time Out described: ‘The cement sculptures have been installed on the seafloor as part of a new underwater ‘museum’ by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor near the city of Cannes. Now open to the public, the free exhibit makes for a calming (and eerily beautiful) antidote to the razzle-dazzle usually associated with this particularly glitzy corner of the French Riviera. The sculptures portray six locals, including an 80-year-old fisherman, an entrepreneur, a curator and some schoolchildren. Each is six foot tall and weighs a whopping ten tons.’

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Fairytale Museum 

Denmark will be opening up a fairy-tale museum in Odense, the hometown of famed Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Hans Christian Andersen wrote over 150 stories or fairytales, many of which are extremely well known – The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes – inspiring films such as Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Frozen and many more.  

Time Out wrote:

‘Now the city’s Hans Christian Andersen Museum, which is set to open in June this year, aims to offer visitors the feeling of stepping inside the author’s fairytale universe. The complex will be split up into a series of cylindrical structures with glass façades that blend in naturally with the surrounding gardens. Narrow wooden columns will create the impression of an indoor forest, while the buildings’ concave roofs will be topped with hanging flower gardens.

The attraction will also be home to a café, an underground museum and a ‘children’s space’ that will host events and workshops. It has been built just near his childhood home, which is already open to visitors – making the city a mega-attraction for Andersen fans, in the same way Stratford-upon-Avon is for Shakespeare. Architects Kengo Kuma and Associates took inspiration from Andersen’s story ‘The Tinderbox’, in which a whole new world is concealed beneath a single tree. ‘The idea behind the architectural design resembled Andersen’s method, where a small world suddenly expands to a bigger universe,’ said Kuma.’

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Museum of Bad Art

If Art galleries really isn’t your thing, why not check out some really bad art to see if that better entertains you? The Museum of bad art in Massachusetts has collected together an intriguingly gratifying collection of horrors. Culture Trip writes: ‘…found in three locations across Somerville and Brookline. Psychotic surrealism, lacklustre landscapes and just pure bad taste abound in these sites, creating a rare art gallery where your nine year-old really could have done that. If nothing else, it will really make you appreciate your next trip to a bona fide art gallery which cannot help but look good in comparison.’

Phallic Museums
This is definitely a popular attraction for many tourists visiting these areas. You may visit Iceland for its stunning scenery and the famous Northern lights, but close by is The Icelandic Phallogical Museum ‘ features close to 300 jarred genitals of animals ranging in size from 2mm hamster genitals to the two meter tip of a five meter blue whale penis…’ Culture Trip wrote.

One of the most famous museums in this area however is of course the Sex Museum in Amsterdam, first opening in 1985 and one of the most-visited museums in Amsterdam (sorry Van Gogh). According to Tourism Teacher ‘Sexmuseum Amsterdam allows visitors to explore the evolution of sex throughout the ages thanks to pictures, artefacts, photos, video recordings and artwork. It is a journey of sex through different eras. From Cleopatra to the Middle Ages, there is so much to learn here and it’s no wonder it is such a popular museum.’

Some Of The Most Breathtaking Places To See Wildflowers In The US

With the Covid-19 pandemic finally beginning to reach it’s long-winded end with the release of multiple vaccines, many are ready to return to their normal lives. Many aren’t going to be rushing to the airport anytime soon, however, a lot of people are ready to begin traveling across the country in a safe way as more and more people get vaccinated. 

Below is a list of some of the most spectacular locations to see a variety of vibrant wildflowers throughout the United States. Many individuals are opting to go on road trips as the weather gets warmer and the country begins to reopen, here’s some of the most popular destinations that US residents will be heading to in the coming months: 

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Texas: From March to May Texas is known for having spectacular fields full of colorful spring flowers. Texas Hill Country is one of the most famous parts of the state for flower viewing due to its prominent Indian paintbrushes, pink evening primroses, daisies, winecups, prairie verbenas, and golden eye phlox populations. The 80-mile loop from Brenham to Chappell Hill is also known for its intense and vibrant meadows full of purple coneflowers, verbenas, beardtongues, skullcaps, prairie parsley, yellow wild indigo, blue-eyed grasses, blanket flowers, and more.

South Dakota: South Dakota offers a wide variety of wildflower destinations alongside the multitude of other national monuments present in the state. Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore, and the Crazy Horse Memorial all contain some of the nation’s most spectacular views. The Badlands National Park is known for having some of the country’s most natural scenery in the spring and summer, including the prairie coneflowers, Woods’ roses, and Rocky Mountain blazing stars.

Florida: According to travel journalist Skye Sherman, “while they’re not exactly wildflowers, South Florida’s tabebuia trees (also known as trumpet trees) are still a sight to behold. Each spring, the trees erupt in clouds of yellow — sunny as the state itself — or a light pastel pink that perfectly captures the spirit of springtime. Head to Palm Beach starting in March to spot these colorful blooms.

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California: California is constantly blooming, it just depends on where you go and what the time of year is. February through April is known to be the best time to find the state really covered in wildflowers and other exotic plant life. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Carlsbad Flower Fields are the best places to take in the golden state’s beauty. 

Colorado:  Colorado is ideal for a summer hiking trip because not only is the weather glorious, but trails across the state are surrounded by a rainbow of wildflowers. Head to Crested Butte, considered to be the “Wildflower Capital of Colorado,” for the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival and great hiking opportunities, or Steamboat Springs to spot the Colorado blue columbine and red Indian paintbrush on the trails,” according to Sherman.

Montana: Prairie and Alpine wildflowers saturate the grounds of the Glacier National Park every year from June to July. The one month residency makes Montana one of the most popular summer travel spots in the US. In general more than 1,000 breeds of wildflowers grow in the Glacier National Park throughout the summer, so you’re guaranteed some of the most beautiful views you’ve ever seen should you take the trip.

Vaccine Given to World

EU’s ‘Digital Green Card’ Or Vaccine Pass Scheme

There has been a lot of discussion and speculation around the idea of COVID passports, which on confirmation of a COVID-19 vaccination, would allow people to more freely travel into and out of countries. This topic has been widely discussed, some countries seemingly for the proposal in a bid to re-open their borders and kickstart their tourism industry, others contest the idea on the ground of ethics. As not all people would be able to, (i.e. pregnant women) or perhaps want to take the vaccination, it is an unfair proposal that infringes upon ethics practices and human rights. However, some travel companies have already initiated various procedures in this vein, only allowing passengers to travel with a negative COVID-19 test and also evidence of vaccination. Now, EU leaders have announced plans to present a ‘Digital Green Card’ proposal, which is effectively a vaccine passport scheme. 

European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen announced that she would put forward a legislation for the digital green pass this month, the draft legislation is expected to publish on the 17th of March where the details of the format will also be revealed. In a Tweet on March 1st, Ursula con der Leyen wrote: 

‘We’ll present this month a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass. The aim is to provide:

  • Proof that a person has been vaccinated 
  • Results of tests for those who couldn’t get a vaccine yet
  • Info on COVID19 recovery

It will respect data protection, security & privacy’

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Adding in a later Tweet that “The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans‘ lives… The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad – for work or tourism.”

It is expected that the digital passports will be accessible via smart phones, detailing the health status of the individual in question, whether they have received full vaccination and even further information such as test results and whether someone has recovered from COVID-19. The passport could allow unrestricted access to flights, various tourism sectors, festivals and so forth and may also allow a person to avoid ‘hotel quarantines’ in some countries. The vaccine passport may not only allow a person to travel internationally but may also be used inside countries to allow the re-opening of venues and other parts of society, such as bars and theatres. 

As already mentioned, the controversy around these passports is due to the fact that they could allow room for data privacy violations and discrimination. One suggestion is that it could mean that a person who has been vaccinated gets a job over someone who has not been vaccinated. A person may not be able to be vaccinated due to health or personal reasons. It is also unfair for those who are not able to be vaccinated, some regions are still having difficulty accessing vaccinations, and even those countries who have no trouble with vaccine access, the waiting list for one is extensive. 

Dr. Clare Wenham, assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics spoke to The Telegraph stating: “From an ethical point of view vaccine passports are completely unacceptable. You’re going to create a two-tier system and history shows that when you create division within society it leads to civil unrest. It’s vaccine apartheid.”

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Some countries are already for the idea of vaccine passports. Greece and Spain, who rely heavily on international tourism, have been campaigning for the introduction of a EU-wide passport. Denmark and Sweden have already announced that they will introduce such a passport, Sweden requesting an international standard from the EU or World Health Organization to allow a universal passport across borders. 

The UK government, although no longer part of the European Union, have not been clear on their stance on the COVID passports, one member of parliament suggesting they could be on the table, another rejecting the idea completely. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock, commented on the EU’s proposal saying that the UK was working with international partners on the topic, stating:

“The EU is part of those discussions, as are several other countries around the world, and it’s obviously important work… What I’d also say is that, in a sense, this already exists because you need to have a test before you can travel to the UK. As far as I understand it from the details set out today, the EU proposal is that certification includes both whether you’ve had the vaccine and also whether you’ve recently had a test for those who can’t get vaccinated yet, which is obviously particularly important. Therefore, it’s something that we’re working with them and others on and it matters that we get the details of this right for international travel.”

Greece Views

Greece Is Hoping To Reopen For Tourists In May 

Greece is hoping to reopen its doors for tourists and travelers in May, the 14th of May to be more specific. The country’s tourism minister recently made the announcement of what he claimed was a “much-awaited date for the tourist season to officially begin.”

Haris Theoharis told the world’s largest tourism fair, the IBT Berlin Tourism Fair, that anyone who’s been vaccinated for Covid-19, possesses antibodies, or has tested negative for Covid-19 will be able to visit Greece anytime after May 14th. 

“We aim to open tourism by May 14th with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift restrictions if conditions allow.” 

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This reopening makes sense considering tourism is one of the largest sectors of the economy in Europe, but especially Greece. Athens specifically has been struggling greatly to cope with the loss of income and revenue that normally comes with tourism season. Authorities in Greece have even called upon the European Union to create vaccination certificates so that individuals who have received their doses can travel more easily. 

This week the European Union commission’s vice president, Margaritis Schinas, claimed that he believed a digital vaccination pass would be available by the summer.

“I think after the last summit there is convergence on the need for this digital vaccination certificate. It will be a European product and will be the same throughout Europe.”

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Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, however, also warned that there are a lot of legal and technical dangers with creating digital vaccination certificates, so it will have to be methodically planned out to ensure every citizen’s identity remains safe. 

One in five Greek residents work in tourism, in fact, it’s the country’s largest economic sector. The government has claimed that it’s aiming to attract at least 50% of the 31.3 million people who typically visit Greece annually in non-pandemic circumstances. 

According to the UK government the May 17th is the earliest date that the nation will allow international travel to occur. This projection was a part of the government’s roadmap for navigating its third national lockdown. UK tourists are Greece’s second largest source of visitors as well, so officials from Athens have been working closely with Britain on distributing vaccines and creating updated travel guidelines. 

Theoharis claims that once all elderly and vulnerable individuals are vaccinated it could begin bringing back employees to its tourism sector. The government in Greece also said that it expects the country will be able to meet this goal once it receives its order of more than 2 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

International Travel

Booking a Vacation Abroad – What to Remember in Post-Covid World

The ability to travel in and out of countries for vacation varies from nation to nation. Some countries have closed their borders completely, others are discussing whether COVID-passports (which determine whether someone has been inoculated against the virus and therefore able to travel more freely) would be the solution to re-open their tourism industries safely. Although, some restrictions are stricter than others, depending on the degree of severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in said country, most nations are still wary of opening their borders too generously to holiday makers.

With the vaccine rollout underway for many nations, it may not be long before we can return to a semi-normal way of life – which means that travelling for pleasure could be safely back on the menu. When we are able to carefully travel, it is important to remember that things may not be back to the way they once were immediately. Therefore, in the early days it is important to remember a few things before you jet off to adventures unknown.  

Research

Some may prefer to book a vacation with their favorite holiday provider or travel agent, leaving the details to other people for the ultimate relaxation experience. Others may prefer to do swathes of their own research before they travel. Whatever your preference, at the moment it is probably a good idea to check whether you are or will be able to travel to your chosen destination. Some countries have imposed rules that you should be aware of –  you may need proof of a COVID vaccination to enter or you may have to present a negative COVID test close to, but prior to, travel. Some destinations may require a stay in a quarantine hotel before being able to freely travel in the country.

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This may mean you need to extend your trip by two weeks, packing for hotel quarantine as well. You may even need to quarantine when you re-enter your own country after your trip. Finally, there may be other measures that you need to be aware of – social distancing rules can vary from place to place and you may find yourself in need of a mask more often than usual or need to adhere to other rules that are different to your hometown. It is therefore always best to research the area that you are travelling to, to not only ensure that you are safe, but others around you are safe too and that you comply with the local restrictions rather than find yourself unable to enjoy your time to the fullest.  

Insurance 

If you are looking to book a trip sooner rather than later, it is important to remember that this time is very precarious for holiday makers and nothing is guaranteed. Another outbreak of the virus in your chosen destination could mean that the borders close, or your own nation may restrict travel to keep the virus from spreading further.

In the future as the virus become more under control, this may not be so much of a worry, but it is impossible to yet tell when that may be.

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Therefore, it may be an idea to look into travel insurance. Be sure to cover yourself with travel insurance that is right for you – which means checking your policy carefully – what exactly does it cover? Will it cover the cost of flights and the hotel due to a COVID outbreak or is the insurance company not willing to pay out for that very possible outcome? If you do not want to purchase travel insurance or you cannot find a provider that will adequately cover your needs, check the policies of the airline and hotel. Can you receive a refund should your trip be cancelled? Once you have this information, you can make the best decision for you.  

Is it safe?

If you are travelling soon, is also important to check the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak in the area you will be visiting. Your country may not allow you to visit some countries which are deemed riskier than others, but you still should check whether you are comfortable with the level of risk presented in your chosen destination yourself. You may find that this year you prefer to travel inside your own country, opting for a ‘staycation’ – which in itself can be very rewarding!

Whatever country you are visiting, even if you are staying at home, be sure to follow sensible social distancing procedures, keep a healthy distance from people, wear a mask if it is required, be vigilant on washing your hands and do not touch your face. Washing your hands at regular intervals is good hygiene practice anyway. 

Virtual Travel

Breathtaking Buildings Around The World Now Offering Virtual Tours 

While the Covid-19 pandemic is coming to a hopeful end with the rollout of multiple vaccines throughout the world, we must remain patient and vigilant with the current health and safety procedures until a greater herd immunity is met. While we wait, many of the world’s most famous places are offering virtual tours for the traveler’s who have been patiently waiting to get out of their house for the past year. 

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Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Barquq, Cairo: Experience Egypt From Home” is a new program made for the traveler who wants to visit the historic architecture that Egypt has to offer from the comfort of their own home. The Mosque was made in the 14th century and is full of old school African architecture such as marble mosaics, bronze doors, and carved minarets, all perfectly preserved. 

Anne of Cleves House, East Sussex: The Sussex Archaeological Society has been offering a multitude of historical virtual tours within the past year, and their most recent addition is the former mansion of Henry VIII. The tour itself starts in the lush garden and glides easily into the magnificent kitchen and open floor plan of this classic medieval house. 

Palace of Versailles, Paris: ‘Hey guys, what’s up?’ says narrator Jean Philippe N’Djoli, inviting us into Versailles. A short, playful video introduces the palace’s immersive 2019 Google virtual reality app, which offers hi-tech tours of the opera house, king’s bedroom and more,” according to the website. This palace is famous for obvious reasons, and the beautiful interior designs will stun any onlooker, even through a computer screen.

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City Palace, Jaipur, India: In 2019, Jaipur’s youthful maharaja, polo player Padmanabh Singh, put a room in his palace on to Airbnb (priced about $6,000 a night, the proceeds going to charity). The suite and its private pool don’t feature in this polished palatial tour, but the virtually accessible parts of the palace are a huge showcase for Jaipur’s sunset-coloured sandstone and graceful Mughal architecture,” according to the Guardian. The palace was initially built in the 1720’s and maintains a ton of the original features from its creation. 

Golestan Palace, Iran: 360cities.net has been offering tours of some of the world’s most historic cities and sites for individuals at home. Now, they’ve added one of the most iconic palace’s from the Qajar Dynasty, which famously ruled the Persian empire from 1785-1925, roughly. According to experts in the area “the walled Golestan complex is one of Tehran’s oldest palaces (the mirrored decor is largely 19th century) and the Unesco World Heritage listing describes it as an inspirational “example of an east-west synthesis” in art and architecture.”

Taliesin, Wisconsin, US: Frank Lloyd Wright’s 242-hectare estate is one of the most famous architectural accomplishments in the country. Wright himself wrote in 1932 that “No other landscape cradles you as do these south-western Wisconsin hills.” The tour will take virtual visitors through the living room first and directly into the Hillside Assembly Hall. The tour is currently available on tourdeforce360.com.