New Travel Column Today at 3QD

My monthly travel column went up this morning on 3 Quarks Daily. Read it there for now, and soon I’ll post it here, too.

Quotes: Macron on Vaccinations

I like that Macron is raising awareness about the need for rich countries to help vaccinate poor ones. It’s the right thing to do. I don’t like that he positions it as a mere matter of optics:

“It won’t change our vaccination campaigns, but each country should set aside a small number of the doses it has to transfer tens of millions of them, but very fast, so that people on the ground see it happening.”

The Difference Between Canadians and Americans

Here’s a photo that says a lot about how Canadians and Americans are treating the virus. Top is a Maid of the Mists ship, one of a fleet of sightseeing ships that set out for Niagara Falls from the New York side. Bottom, the Hornblower, is a Canadian counterpart.

Via the Monocle Minute.

IATA Travel Pass

In order to hurry along the resumption of international air travel the trade group International Air Transport Association (IATA) plans to initiate its Travel Pass in the first quarter of 2021 which, of course, is now only a couple of weeks away. Travel Pass will be “A global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements,” and will include “accurate information on passengers’ COVID-19 health status.” Essentially, it will tell passengers what’s required of them to reach their destination, and tell airlines whether passengers have been tested and/or vaccinated. IATA says it will soon be downloadable for iOS and Android phones. Here is a pdf fact sheet.

It’s one sign that things are stirring in the world of air travel. Another: Airlines warned about safety of COVID-19-grounded planes leaving storage.

2021 Travel? Not so Fast

The aviation consultancy Simpliflying reaches some fairly downbeat conclusions about the swift resumption of tourism in 2021. It thinks:

1 – It’s likely that there will be some form of air travel recovery from April. Shorter haul leisure routes (e.g from Northern / Western Europe to the Mediterranean) will recover first, especially those catering to older leisure travellers, who are higher in the vaccination queue. 

2 – Widespread vaccinations of the adult population in Europe and North America however, won’t occur until after April, and we can’t expect a mass of adults to be vaccinated until the Summer. 

3 – In Western Countries, vaccination schedules will not be uniform. In other countries, the roll-out may take until 2022 or 2023. This means testing is here to stay, and will work alongside vaccination certificates and biosafety measures. 

4 – Reopening borders for air travel will not be a priority for Governments. Even the introduction of vaccines may not be enough.

You can download the entire report here.

Vaccine Tourism

“Be among the first to get Corona vaccine.” A Mumbai travel agency plans to fly “VVIP clients” to New York on 11 December for the vaccine and four hotel nights, for about USD$2369.

Relax

You’ve been working – or worrying – hard all week. You’re stressed. Take a minute to try to relax this weekend. No matter where you are.

Not So Welcome in Cambodia

Cambodia is requiring a $3000 “coronavirus deposit” from incoming tourists, against which fees are assessed. Then,

“Mandatory fees begin with a $5 (£4) charge for transport from the airport to a testing centre.

The Covid-19 test itself costs $100 (£80). The traveller must then pay $30 (£24) for an overnight stay at the stipulated hotel or “waiting centre,” and the same again for three meals a day while waiting for the test results.

With luck, the traveller will forfeit just $132 (£106) of the amount deposited. They must then self-isolate for 14 days in their chosen accommodation.

But if one passenger on their flight tests positive for coronavirus, everyone on the same flight is quarantined in government-approved accommodation for two weeks, at a cost of $1,176 including meals, laundry and “sanitary services”. They must also pay another $100 for a second Covid-19 test. This totals a further £1,021.

If the traveller happens to be the coronavirus-positive patient, they will have to take up to four tests at another $100 (£80) each, as well as $3,150 (£2,500) for treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in the capital, Phnom Penh.”

Any unused balance is refunded.

Read more in The Independent.

Thailand Reopens with Hospital Perks

Thailand is allowing five Bangkok hotels, “Alternative State Quarantine hotels,” to offer fourteen day luxury quarantine passes.

A Mövenpick Resort has Bt58,000 ($1,832) “Homecoming Health Watch” packages, including airport transfers, full-board for 15 nights and outdoor walks in the hotel garden.

A little more budget friendly, according to the Financial Times, another hotel offers a perk you don’t see everyday. The Qiu Hotel

“offers a Bt32,000 “alternative state quarantine” package, (and) is already receiving bookings for July, its co-owner Maysa Phaoharuhan said. The offer includes full-board with three choices per meal and “unlimited” visits to nearby Sukhumvit Hospital.”

Maps of Life under Lockdown

A compilation from readers of CityLab.