Destinations to Explore Without Pandemic Blues in Summer
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage havoc across the world, the travel and tourism sector is undergoing some major alterations. Destinations that were once on the top of everyone’s travel wish lists remain closed and offbeat destinations that have managed to keep their COVID-19 count relatively low are gaining the initiative. Countries that were once beyond the radar of international tourism are suddenly driving the industry post COVID, with new flight routes opening up and the countries themselves promoting more tourism in recent years. Here are our top recommended destinations where you can travel right now without worries.
A mystical country that was once the heart of the Silk Road, with cities like Tashkent, Bukhara, and Nukus becoming vibrant trade centers and Samarkand, the capital of the mighty Timurid empire, Uzbekistan as a destination faded away post the Soviet takeover after the mid-1940s. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan has hardly gained any recognition as a travel destination, filled with natural and historical attractions. That has all changed. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Uzbekistan was heavily promoting tourism in the country, guaranteeing tourist safety, and increasing tourism infrastructure.
As coronavirus spread around the world, the fallout in Uzbekistan was relatively lower than most European and American countries, even though the Central Asian country shares a border with China, where the virus originated. Uzbekistan was one of the first countries to resume international flights and the country opened its borders to international tourists as far back as October 2020. Uzbekistan now allows passengers with a negative RT-PCR test to freely explore the country without any quarantine. Uzbekistan has also entered into an agreement with India to create a mutual travel bubble between the countries. As we learn to live with the pandemic, Uzbekistan is one step ahead, showing the world how to step out of a major crisis and continue traveling.
Seychelles is known as the jewel of the Indian Ocean. The archipelago features picture-postcard beaches, azure waters perfect for diving, and rare species including the Black Parrot and the largest tortoises in the world. The beaches of Seychelles often feature high on the list of the best beaches in the world. The Anse Source D’Argent on La Digue Island is one of the most photographed beaches in the world because of its pink sand. The clear blue waters surrounding the island nation are also home to vibrant marine life, including whales, manta rays, and starfish.
Seychelles went into lockdown with the rest of the world in April 2020. Located far away from the outbreak, Seychelles reported very few cases over the past year. Seychelles had already been reeling under the effects of climate change and with the worldwide restrictions on tourism, the economy shrank. As the virus moved to and then away from Africa, Seychelles opened its borders for tourism on March 25th, 2021, and started welcoming international travelers. Dividing countries into two zones according to the level of risk, Seychelles is allowing everyone with a negative RT-PCR test entry into the country as long as the tourists adhere to the local rules. Accommodation bookings must be made only at licensed hotels certified by the Public Health Authority of Seychelles. Visitors are not allowed to use public transport and transfers are only by authorized transportation services. Travelers will also be monitored by a designated person from the Health and Safety Board, regardless of their vaccination status.
The southernmost country of Southern Asia, Maldives provides the ultimate tropical getaway with quaint overwater bungalows, secluded beaches, a myriad of marine life, and vibrant coral atolls. The Maldives gives travelers the opportunity to relax on the picture-perfect beaches doing absolutely nothing, swim with dolphins and whale sharks, or enjoy a variety of water sports.
As the world went into a prolonged period of lockdown, Maldives was hit hard due to the lack of tourism. The Maldives was one of the first countries to open its borders to the world. On July 15, 2020, the archipelago nation started welcoming tourists after a brief hiatus and travelers have been flocking to its shores ever since. The seclusion of resorts and the sparsely populated islands provide a grand escape from the pandemic that found its way all across the world. Tourists are required to present a negative RT-PCR test, a Health Declaration Form, and a booking for a resort. Tourists with slight symptoms may be required to quarantine. For tourists without any symptoms, there is no obligation to quarantine.
Home to the highest and third highest peaks on the planet, Nepal is both a revered spiritual destination and a haven for thrill-seekers. Nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, Nepal is a collision of vibrant culture and spectacular natural beauty.
Although Nepal had resumed international flights in July, travelers were restricted till December. Now, Nepal has thrown its borders open to travelers with an RT-PCR test to be taken on arrival. Tourists with a negative result are free to pursue their travel plans. In case the result comes out to be positive, the tourists are required to quarantine in a hotel at their own cost. On-arrival visas have also been resumed at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport for vaccinated travelers. Travelers unable to visit Nepal Embassies in their home countries who have gotten their COVID vaccine doses can opt for a visa on arrival. To apply for a visa on arrival, travelers are required to present four documents; one that shows a hotel booking in Nepal, a statement of vaccination, a letter of recommendation from the Nepal Tourism Board, their negative RT-PCR results, and their travel insurance.
UAE, the gateway to the Middle East, with one of the busiest airports in the world has seen a steady increase of the virus last year. However, with a steady rollout of vaccinations, Dubai and the rest of the UAE became one of the safest destinations during the pandemic. Dubai International Airport, being a hub for connecting flights all over the world, opened its borders around September and has since been accepting travelers, albeit with restrictions. Now, as vaccinations are picking up around the world, restrictions have been relaxed and travelers can enter the country with a negative RT-PCR test certificate. However, those travelers with symptoms and travelers who came in contact with affected patients are required to go through mandatory 10-day quarantine.
The largest country on the planet, Russia’s sheer size guarantees all kinds of travel experiences in one amazing country. From Orthodox churches to picturesque countrysides, from adventure sports to gourmet tours, Russia sure has something for everyone.
Russia also recorded quite a high number of cases during the pandemic. But its effect was most felt in the socio-economic sectors as Russia’s economy was abruptly halted due to restrictions. Russia was closed off for tourists for the entirety of 2020. On 16th March 2021, Russia lifted restrictions for some countries including India, the UK, UAE, etc. To enter Russia, travelers need to produce a negative RT-PCR test. Like most countries, entry is not possible without the test results.
Croatia, one of the jewels of the Balkans is known for its spectacular natural beauty, an awesome Adriatic coastline, and the setting for one of the most well-known shows ever.
The caseload in Croatia was impressively low, but the economic repercussions of the restrictions were widely felt. Largely dependent on tourism, Croatia has partially opened its borders and gradually letting in tourists who provide a negative RT-PCR test. The test must be taken no longer than 48 hours before arrival.
The intercontinental country had suspended all passenger flights in March 2020 as the pandemic started. The coronavirus fallout was kept to a minimum in Turkey and after a gradual restart, Turkey threw its borders open on June 12th, 2020 with several restrictions. Now, all tourists despite their nationalities are allowed to enter the country with a negative RT-PCR certificate. However, flights from Denmark, the United Kingdom, and South Africa remain suspended. A negative test certificate and a Traveler Entry Form are all it takes to freely explore the charming country in all its glory. A medical screening is conducted at entry points and quarantine is not mandatory for those without symptoms.
One of Europe’s least talked about destinations, Ukraine is an eclectic mix of vibrant cities, Renaissance-inspired architecture, Soviet remnants, quirky arts scenes, and amazing cafe culture.
Sitting on the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the Eastern European nation experienced devastating fallout of the pandemic. While the number of cases is at par with other European nations, the socio-economic consequences have been severe with the UN predicted that Ukraine might be heading towards its worst recession in decades.
Ukraine first opened its borders on June 15, 2020, dividing different countries into two zones based on risk factors. On March 22, 2021, the zone lists were discarded and the country has started welcoming travelers from the world over bound by the same rules for entry. Travelers are required to produce a negative RT-PCR test, taken less than 72 hours before arrival in Ukraine. No one will be granted entry into Ukraine without a negative RT-PCR test. Travel insurance is also mandatory for the entire duration a traveler plans to spend in Ukraine. It is clear that while Ukraine is opening up its tourism sector, they are not taking any chances for the virus to spread again, as it had in the second half of 2020. India also currently has an air bubble agreement with Ukraine since October, allowing mutual travel between the two countries.