Under pressure from Europe, the travel ban in force in our country was canceled for months. Although still deeply frustrated, Belgians can in principle leave on non-essential trips in the European Union from Monday. But those who crave a week’s beach or cultural trip in town should do their homework first. Because the destinations you can travel to without worry are relatively few and far between.
“Being allowed to leave is one thing,” says Frank Postels, a spokesperson for travel company Connections, “but you also have to be welcome.” We assume that people who want to go on vacation want to take a PCR test, but the quarantine period on arrival and / or return is a bridge too far. If you take these variables into account, you will have few options left.
We assume those who want to go on vacation want to undergo a PCR test, but don’t want to be quarantined.
The rule is maintained that anyone arriving from the Red Zone in Belgium must be in quarantine for ten days and complete two PCR tests – on the first day and the seventh day -. With nearly all of Europe still red, there are only a few options left for those who don’t want to be quarantined on their return. Only Portugal and Iceland turn completely orange, while some orange regions appear in some parts of other European countries such as Spain (Valencia, Galicia, and the Balearic Islands), Norway, Finland and Italy.
But in many of those places, you have to take into account mandatory quarantine or even entry bans. If you want to go to Iceland or Sardinia in Italy, you must self-isolate for five days as a Belgian. It is not even permitted to travel to Finland and Norway.
This means that the list of going for a vacation in Europe without quarantine obligations is limited to Portugal and some parts of Spain, including the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca). Anyone wanting to travel there will need a negative PCR test, which takes no more than 72 hours before departure. In the Canary Islands, the red code is applied to the crowds of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura.
Travel-loving Belgians should take strict domestic measures in mind. In Spain, there is a general obligation to mouth masks, except for beaches, and a curfew is in effect from 11 pm. In Mallorca it starts at 10 pm. The restaurant industry and some activities such as museums and cinemas are also very limited.
At a longer distance, there are still some places that want to receive tourists without the obligation to quarantine, such as Dubai, Tanzania or the Dominican Republic. But tourist travel outside Europe is still prohibited, unlike travel in Europe. Hence these options will also expire.
Even though the removal of the travel ban has been in the air for several days, they haven’t noticed much enthusiasm among the travel organizations to get out quickly. “The number of questions is very low,” says Postels of Connections.
Summer reservations are starting to move somewhat. The Belgians are keeping their hopes for a cool summer outside, thanks to a cutting-edge vaccination campaign and the fact that touristy countries like Greece and Portugal are gradually sending signals that they are preparing to receive tourists again, just like last summer.
Our studies show that people yearn for a vacation.
“This week, the number of bookings in Flanders has increased by 60 percent from the previous week, and the number in Wallonia has more than doubled,” says Tim Van den Bergh, Communications Director at Sunweb. In absolute terms, these are not the numbers we are used to in this period. We’re talking about a few thousand reservations, which is something we’ll do in a day in a regular period. But something started to move.
“We’re doing a lot of research. It shows that people crave those vacations. In the Netherlands, we are carrying out a test project in cooperation with the government, organizing a test trip to Rhodes for 180 people. Before that, we had 25,000 registrations in a few hours. This says something.
Van den Berg estimates: “But people only really start traveling when it is possible and can be done safely.” “As long as you stay strongly frustrated, like now, you will remain calm for a while.”