The industry that has been hit the hardest during this worldwide pandemic is definitely the tourism industry which undoubtedly brings in a ton of revenue for countries. As things seem to be on a better track now, countries are slowly but surely easing themselves into the older world-order but with a few necessary tweaks. Many have opted to form exclusive travel ‘corridors’ or ‘bubbles’ to ease international borders and kickstart the pandemic-hit industry.
Despite this, it will not be as simple as packing your bags and hopping on a flight, tourists both domestic and international need to be convinced enough to book that flight. The health risks involved with international travel are not a stranger to anybody. So, to encourage tourists to set aside fears and engage in international travel, albeit with proper safety measures, governments have rolled out various offers, some noteworthy and some darkly quirky, to woo tourists. Did you know that the Emirates has offered a free funeral as part of its COVID-19 travel insurance?
Italy: One of the first countries to battle with a heavy toll of positive COVID-19 patients, Italy sure seems to have made a run for recovery and as early as April, the southern island of Sicily announced that it would cover half the flight cost, a third of hotel expenses and free tickets to museums and archaeological sites.
Japan: Japan has turned to domestic tourism to boost travel in the country by launching a ‘Go To’ campaign which is set to last till spring of 2021. You will receive subsidies of up to 50% on all domestic travel spending within Japan, except for the residents of Tokyo.
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Uzbekistan: In a bid to reassure tourists about their new safety and hygiene measures, the Uzbek government will pay $3,000 in case a tourist contacts the virus while visiting the country. This will include the entire cost of the treatment.
Cyprus: In Cyprus, any travellers testing positive for the virus will have their accommodation, medical treatment, and food covered, not only if they fall sick while travelling, but if they test positive after arriving at the airport. The offer extends to their co-travellers as well.
Greece: Added taxes on flight tickets are a pain, and Greece has decided to cut the Value Added Tax (VAT) on all modes of transport from 24% to 13%.
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Mexico: Cancun, in southeast Mexico has decided to take things up a notch by having foreign tourists participate in social media contests where they can win free lifetime travel certificates to visit Cancun. The ‘Come to Cancun 2x1’ campaign offers two free nights of accommodation for every two paid ones.
Other countries have also introduced incentives to encourage tourism. The Portugal government has announced that foreign travellers will be tested for free upon arrival. In Bulgaria, tourists will no longer have to pay to access loungers, umbrellas, or tables while sunbathing on the beach. Meanwhile the British have an unusual offer waiting for them at home: holiday at home and the government will pay you money for it.