Greece Opening to Foreign Travelers in June

Government officials in Greece announced Wednesday the country would open to foreign visitors on June 15.

According to BBC.com, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed travelers arriving at popular destinations across the country would be subjected to coronavirus testing and government-mandated health protocols.

Tourism Minister Harry Theoharis said Greece would provide a list before the end of May consisting of approved countries it would allow visitors from based on “epidemiological criteria” from health and safety experts.

Theoharis said the plan is to allow travelers from approved countries to arrive only through Athens International Airport starting on June 15 before expanding the order to all of Greece’s other airports on July 1.

When it comes to determining which countries will be allowed to send visitors, Theoharis revealed the ongoing coronavirus numbers would impact the decision. Tourists arriving will not be subjected to a mandatory quarantine.

In the case of a potential viral outbreak in a region, the government is designating a doctor for each hotel and adding special quarantine areas and testing facilities on islands. The country has been on lockdown since March but has been heralded for its success containing the virus.

With an estimated 33 million visitors arriving in Greece last year, tourism has been devastated by the pandemic, and officials are excited to bring back an industry worth around 20 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Several countries in the European Union are also beginning to remove travel restrictions in time for the summer holidays, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Ireland.

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National parks visitors should plan for 'new normal' — The Know

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Utah — After closing amid the coronavirus pandemic, the National Park Service is testing public access at several parks across the nation with limited offerings and services.

“I felt like they did it right here because if they opened all the services, I think it would have been too much. Too many people would hit it,” Donna Sullivan, of Sedona, Arizona, told The Salt Lake Tribune Wednesday at Bryce Canyon.

Visitor centers and campgrounds remain largely shuttered at Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef, but visitors are welcome at some of the sites. Sullivan was on a day visit to hike the park’s Rim Trail and Bryce Amphitheater, two of the few hiking destinations currently open at Bryce. She found plenty of room to social distance, but Bryce will likely see larger crowds as word gets out that the park is open and will not collect entry fees.

Visitors should steel themselves for a “new normal” that will not likely square with their last trip, said Acting Park Service Director David Vela.

“You may have facilities that aren’t going to be available, but the (park’s) footprint will be. So it will be a different visitor experience, and it will be a different normal that we’re going to need to own and, frankly, mitigate,” Vela said Friday. “This gets to the value and importance of making sure that visitors know what to expect when they get to the park, making sure that visitors go to the park’s website (and) social media … as to what is accessible, how to plan your trip, and, most importantly, what are the expectations when you get there.”

Recent crowding at southern Utah’s state parks could offer a hint of what’s headed Bryce’s way later this season, said Bryce Park Ranger Peter Densmore.

“This experiment, this limited reopening is really a cooperative effort between us and the public. It’s not possible to reap the full benefits of the mitigations we put in place if people aren’t aware of them and helping us to enforce them,” Densmore said at the shuttered visitor center.

While the park reopened its core attraction, Bryce Amphitheater, Capitol Reef took an opposite approach, keeping its historic center at Fruita and the Scenic Road closed for now.

“You will see more and more parks provide recreation access. We are doing it very thoughtfully,” said park service spokeswoman Vanessa Lacayo.

Parks are staffing up and will increase access as workers are in place to patrol trails and roads, host campgrounds and operate visitor centers and museums. At the Utah parks, seasonal employees from out of state must quarantine for 14 days before they can report for duty, which will slow the process.

Openings have yet to be announced for Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

Major parks throughout the country that have begun limited openings include Badlands and Wind Cave national parks and Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota; Everglades National Park in Florida; Indiana Dunes National Park; Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada; Mount Rainier National Park in Washington; Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky; Pinnacles National Park in California.

In Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park and the Great Sand Dunes are scheduled to begin reopening on May 27 and June 3, respectively.

Advocacy groups fear the park service is moving too fast and urge extreme caution.

“We are also eager to get Americans back into our national parks. But it is too soon,” warned Phil Francis, a retired superintendent who heads The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “Parks absolutely should not open until the safety of National Park Service employees, concession employees, volunteers and other partners, including those who work and live in gateway communities, can be ensured.”

Most park staffers will be in contact with visitors and many live on-site, in close quarters, in government-owned housing, he said. According to a park service document, parks should estimate that up to 40% of the total staff at the park may require isolation and 4% may require hospitalization.

“This is not only impossible under the current setup,” Francis said, “it is unacceptable.”

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Hawaii Unveils Reopening Plan, Extends Traveler Quarantine

Hawaiian officials have unveiled a four-phase plan to safely reopen the state’s economy.

Gov. David Ige revealed the plan during a news conference on Monday, announcing that “medium-risk” businesses and activities such as salons, theaters, museums and restaurants would be allowed to reopen with social distancing measures in place as early as June as part of phase 2.

As anticipated, in a supplemental proclamation issued Monday, Ige also extended the mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers, including inter-island travelers through June 30.

Local retailers and shopping malls were recently allowed to reopen under phase 1, with the next step to reopen businesses and activities deemed “medium-risk.”

“In this phase, we will start to reconnect Hawaii’s local activities by gradually reopening medium-risk businesses and activities followed by high-risk businesses and activities,” Ige said. “We still need to limit gatherings. However, we anticipate a phasing-in of larger gatherings as we progress the impact level from 10 to 50 to 100 people or more.”

Some beaches and parks have also been reopened for limited activities. Meanwhile, “high-risk” businesses, including bars and clubs, will remain closed until phase 3.

Officials will implement a 14-day observation period between reopenings to allow the state sufficient time to assess the situation before moving to the next phase.

Today I signed the 8th supplemental emergency proclamation (https://t.co/bicyIQhZnN), extending the 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in the State of Hawai‘i, as well as for inter-island travelers through June 30.

While Hawaii’s recovery appears to be trending in the right direction, there’s still no certain timetable for when travelers will be able to visit as the extended mandatory quarantine, limited accessibility due to suspended flight routes and a lack of tourist amenities present only three of the many major challenges at this time.

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When Can You Travel to Hawaii Again?

It’s a destination for all.

From honeymooners to second honeymooners to vacationers to outdoor adventurists to surfing enthusiasts, Hawaii has something for everyone.

But the impact of the coronavirus has just about shut off the islands to tourists, who are asking the million-dollar question – when can you travel to Hawaii again?

Right now, it’s a complicated situation and the safe, easy answer is, you shouldn’t travel to the islands right now and probably not until July, at the earliest.

You shouldn’t travel to Hawaii right now.

It doesn’t mean you can’t travel to Hawaii right now.

As The Points Guy blog noted, there really are just too many hurdles to overcome to have the true Hawaii experience right now.

Even GoHawaii.com, the state’s main tourist information portal, there is an announcement on the home page that reads: “At this time, like many of you, we are focusing on the health and safety of our community, visitor industry employees, healthcare professionals and our healthcare system. As a small remote island community, our residents are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis. Hawaii Governor David Ige has asked that you postpone your trips to Hawaii to give us the opportunity to address this health crisis.”

So, for tourists, it’s currently a daunting landscape – even for the few that have come. For the six-week period starting March 26 through May 13, 7,638 visitors came to Hawaii. A typical month this time of year draws more than 850,000 tourists.

But a large part of that is the quarantine that is in effect for tourists, the restrictions and a simple lack of tourist amenities. To wit:

– Once you arrive in Hawaii, you are immediately under a 14-day quarantine. And, truth be told, it is strictly enforced. For the second time in a nine-day span, a tourist was arrested and faces jail time and a $5,000 for violating the order. Posting pictures at the beach on social media probably didn’t help.

– Good luck finding a flight now anyway. Airlines have drastically cut back routes to Hawaii, as evidenced by Southwest going from 12 daily flights to two.

– Gov. Ige says the quarantine, due to expire on May 31, will likely be extended another month.

– Most beaches are closed, except in Kauai.

– Many hotels are closed.

– Most restaurants are open only for takeout service.

Keith Vieira, principal of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that “it’s time for some bravery and risk. We have to set a date to reopen tourism and the Governor should be leading these directives. … If June 30 is the end of the quarantine, we won’t see tourism reopening on July 1. Hotels that have been closed will need 30 to 60 days to get ready to reopen. They need time to order food and supplies and train for new safety protocols. “

If you travel to Hawaii you’ll need to register with the state’s Safe Travels system, something of a way to trace and contact you. It’s going to take a lot of vacation time and a lot of money to be able to go to Hawaii, quarantine for 14 days, and when that’s up then vacation for a week, 10 days, two weeks, whatever.

In short order, this is not the time to go to Hawaii.

“We will be very careful in reopening domestic and international travel because of the continuing virus activity around the globe, which is very different from what we are seeing here in Hawaii,” Ige said. “At the start of the pandemic, most if not all of our cases were travel-related. So we must remain vigilant and take small steps toward reopening travel to the islands in our effort to avoid a resurgence in cases in Hawaii.”

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Nizuc Resort and Spa Cancun Mexico to reopen June 11

After closing in mid-April, Nizuc Resort & Spa in Cancun announced it would reopen June 11 with a number of new safety protocols.

The 274-room property will conduct temperature screenings for guests and other visitors, and employees will undergo daily temperature checks, according to a statement from the resort.

Other safety procedures will include sanitizing guest baggage upon arrival, heightened cleaning and disinfecting procedures throughout the property and limiting elevators to two people at a time. Nizuc said it would also offer contactless suite service, and digital menus will be available on the resort’s app.

“The safety of our guests and our employees are of the utmost importance to us, and we are confident we can offer a safe environment for both as we reopen the resort next month,” said Jaime Jaramillo, the resort’s managing director.

Nizuc, a AAA Five Diamond property managed by Brisas Group, is located on 29 acres about a 15-minute drive from Cancun Airport.

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COVID-19: Emirates announces limited inbound flight operation for stranded UAE residents

As Ryanair announces a large-scale resumption of holiday flights from July, the Spanish government has imposed a 14-day quarantine for all  foreign travellers coming to the country from Friday, 15 May.

The move is intended to curb the spread of coronavirus in Spain, which is by far the most popular holiday destination for British travellers.

New arrivals will largely be restricted to their accommodation, and will be allowed out only for basic shopping, medical treatment and “situations of need”.

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It is due to end at the same time as the current “state of alarm,” which currently expires on 24 May – but restrictions could be extended beyond that.

On Sunday the Spanish government published details of a gradual restoration of domestic transport links, leading to hope that the country would be open for tourists during the summer.

UK holiday companies had been hoping to resume trips to Spain in late June, with much larger numbers in July and August.

But the measure announced in Madrid, together with a planned quarantine for everyone returning to the UK, appears to rule that prospect out.

Yesterday 28 aviation leaders wrote to Boris Johnson, saying: “People will simply choose not to travel to and from the UK, at the same time as economies in Europe begin opening up.”

Dubai: Emirates airline has announced it will be operating a limited number of inbound flights to bring back stranded UAE residents from London and Frankfurt starting this week.

Last week, Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also announced a limited inbound flight operation for the stranded UAE residents from a number of countries. However, strict guidelines are in place for passengers are flying back. This operation aims to provide relief to thousands of UAE residents stranded abroad since the country banned inbound flights on March 19 as part of precautionary measures to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

“Emirates is operating limited passenger flights to carry travellers from select destinations including London Heathrow and Frankfurt back to the UAE,” the airline said in a statement.

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Approval first

Any UAE residents stranded abroad must get approval from UAE authorities before booking a seat on any inbound flight.

“If you are considering booking one of these flights to get back to Dubai, you will need to ensure you have The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval via the UAE Twajudi Resident service before you book your flight,” says Emirates.

The Dubai-based airline is already operating a limited number of passenger flights for travellers going from the UAE to some destinations.

Passengers are advised to check with the airline about the flights operating to Dubai and the essential travel destinations guide online before they book their flights.

Emirates says that stringent entry restrictions remain in place upon arrival in Dubai, which include a mandatory DHA test on arrival, a mandatory 14-day quarantine and a follow up test before release.

How to book your ticket

You can book your ticket on emirates.com.

If a flight is sold out it will show as not applicable. You can check the weekly calendar at the bottom of the page to select the next available date.

What are the destinations that I can fly to if I am eligible?

To check which flights are currently operating to Dubai, please check Emirates’ Essential Travel destinations guide.

How do I check if I am eligible to travel?

If you are considering booking one of these flights to get back to Dubai, you will need to ensure you have The Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA) approval via the UAE Twajudi Resident service, before you book your flight.

Can I change my destination or refund my ticket?

Applicable fare rules at the time you issue your ticket will apply.

What is expected from me?

The flights will be operated from select international airports in each country. You will need to arrive at check-in 3 hours ahead of departure to avoid any delays. Please bring your own face mask, hand gloves and abide by social distancing rules. You will need to bring the approval letter from Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowing you to return to the UAE.

Can I book this ticket via a travel agent?

No, these flights are only bookable through emirates.com.

What are the items allowed in the cabin?

Cabin baggage will not be accepted on these flights. Items allowed will be limited to laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items; any other items will have to be checked in.

Can I check-in online and choose my seat?

No, online check-in is not available on these flights. However, Emirates staff will pre-assign seats following social distancing rules.

What products and services will I have on these flights?

You will have a modified inflight product and service offering on these flights. Onboard Wi-Fi is available for purchase only. Inflight retail as well as magazines and other print reading material will not be available, and while food and non-alcoholic beverages will continue to be offered on board, packaging, content and presentation will be modified to reduce contact during meal service and the risk of infection. Emirates Lounges and Chauffeur-drive services are temporarily unavailable during this period.

What can I do if my situation is not covered under relaxed polices due to COVID-19 but I want to cancel my trip anyway?

You can still reschedule or cancel your flight. However, please note that a change fee and/or fare difference may apply. Moreover, if you choose to request a refund for this booking, the amount will be processed according to the fare rules of your ticket.

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Jamaica Tourist Board hosting virtual symbolic wedding ceremony

To celebrate love in a time of crisis, the Jamaica Tourist Board in partnership with DestinationWeddings.com will host  a virtual symbolic wedding ceremony on May 17 for up to 100 couples who have had to cancel or postpone their own weddings due to the pandemic.

The virtual celebration will be hosted by an officiant and streamed live from Doctors Cave Beach in Montego Bay. Couples and their guests will be able to join the celebration from their homes using Zoom.

“We’re excited to be hosting this virtual symbolic wedding and look forward to welcoming these couples when they visit us for their bona fide celebrations, when the time is right,” said Donny Dawson, deputy director of tourism, sales.

DestinationWeddings.com, along with 18 Jamaica resort partners, is offering each participating couple a complimentary wedding package, three free nights in an upgraded room and complimentary arrival and departure services if they book their ceremony through DestinationWeddings.com.

Couples interested in taking part in the ceremony can register at www.destinationweddings.com/virtualwedding.

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HTA college offer free online training

A Hawaii tourism training program is now available for free online through a partnership between the University of Hawaii Kapiolani Community College and Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

Currently five online sessions of the Certificate for Customer Service in Hawaii program are open for registration, with the first starting May 12 and the last beginning Aug. 11.

The program is designed for employees in service-related industries, is based on Hawaiian culture, and focuses on developing practical skills that will aid in providing memorable service for customers. 

The live, online sessions will be conducted using Zoom online conferencing software to hold discussions and practice skills. The program typically costs $1,139 per person. Participants can register at the Kapiolani Community College website and use the code HTAFREE to enroll at no cost. 

The course modules include: Introduction to the Hawaii’s Visitor Industry; Servicing the Global Customer; Hospitality with Aloha; Foundations of Hawaii; Communicate with Impact: Talking; and Know Your Islands.

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Outrigger rolls out community support effort

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Outrigger Hospitality Group has launched an initiative to support Hawaii and other communities where it operates.

The Outrigger Cares program offered housing for health care providers in Hawaii, delivered meals in Mauritius and donated personal protective equipment to a hospital in Phuket, Thailand.

Additionally, the company has announced “Outrigger’s Clean Commitment,” a company-wide enhancement of cleanliness standards, in addition to a number of revitalization projects, including guest room modifications and enhancements to public spaces.

The bulk of Outrigger Hospitality Group’s 37 properties are located in the Aloha State, and the company also operates hotels in Mauritius, Fiji, Guam and other destinations.

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Mar del Cabo to offer Waterfalls and Canyons excursion

This fall, guests staying at Mar del Cabo in Baja California can take advantage of the new Waterfalls & Canyons Experience.

The new offering, led by a certified tour guide, begins in the town of Santiago with a hike through the Sierra de La Laguna mountains. Visitors will explore canyons, learn about flora and fauna, and swim in the hot springs. The journey concludes in a private log cabin with a traditional Mexican meal.

The experience starts at $250 per person for up to eight people.

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