Spoiler… 3 of them are in the Caribbean.
International travel has been severely affected by the Covid pandemic. While travelers could roam the world freely before the virus emerged, the last two years have been a succession of travel bans, complex entry requirements and strict testing regimes that virtually suspended tourism. Luckily, now that Covid is under control, countries are finally reopening.
Even though some economies may have not been severely affected by the crisis, as not all countries' revenues are mainly based off of travel, others felt the pinch particularly hard. These states, where tourism makes up a large portion of their GDP, have been some of the first to reopen and accept visitors – even prior to vaccines being introduced.
Based on a study conducted by Bounce, we rounded up the Top 5 countries most reliant on international tourism, and that are now eager to welcome tourists back after Covid:
5. The Bahamas
The Bahamas ranks at number 5 on the list of places that depend on tourism the most, according to a recent study conducted by travel experts at the Bounce luggage story app. According to the experts, it is only beaten by two other destinations in terms of tourism employment, with over 26% of the country's workforce being in the sector.
On top of that, tourism accounts for roughly 19% of the archipelago's GDP, proving the influx of tourist dollars is vital to The Bahamas. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that these paradise islands eased entry requirements recently, making it much easier for Americans and other foreigners to visit after the Omicron variant subsided.
With the revised rules, all tourists are welcome irrespective of immunization, having to fulfill one simple requirement:
- Present a negative Covid test result (PCR or Rapid Antigen) issued up to 72 hours before arrival.
4. The Seychelles
A French-speaking archipelago off the coast of Eastern Africa, the Seychelles is a surprising destination where clear water beaches can be found against the scenic backdrop of African nature. Similarly to The Bahamas, this tiny country owes much of its GDP to tourist money, which totals nearly 26% of their economy.
It is also open for tourism, and unlike the first entry on this list, vaccinated foreigners can travel to the Seychelles without undergoing a pre-departure Covid test. The unvaccinated are also welcome, as long as they present either a recent recovery certificate, a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, or a Rapid Antigen test issued under 24 hours.
Once inside the country, tourists can enjoy more freedoms, such as:
- No post-arrival tests
- No state-ordered quarantines
- No Covid screening when visiting tourist sites
With tourism contributing to nearly 30% of local employment rates, Aruba is one of the Caribbean nations most devoted to developing tourism. In fact, the sector's participation in its GDP is capped at 27.64%, only slightly higher than The Seychelles. Nevertheless, Aruba has decided to go a step further and removed all entry requirements recently.
Recognizing the need for a tourism revival, the Dutch outpost scrapped all health-related travel protocols, returning to a pre-2020 state of normality much earlier than other Caribbean hotspots that would only follow suit weeks later. As of March, 2022, Aruba's pristine beaches and traditional colonial-era towns are once again open to avid explorers.
- No mandatory vaccination passports
- No pre-departure tests, regardless of Covid vaccination
- No post-arrival tests
- No mandatory quarantine
- All nationalities are welcome
2. British Virgin Islands
Second on the list of countries most eager to welcome back visitors, the British Virgin Islands are heavily dependent on the dollar. With nearly 33% of GDP being linked to traveler expenses, and a tourism-based economy, the Caribbean archipelago has remained open for visitation throughout the crisis, albeit with strict protocols.
Some groups are pushing for a wider reopening, especially now that international travel demand has surged, but the British Virgin Islands Administration has remained conservative in regards to pandemic management. They may well acknowledge that tourism is important, but some entry requirements remain in place.
Essentially, all arrivals must present a negative PCR or Rapid Antigen test, including:
- A vaccination certificate to be exempt from post-arrival testing
- Travel insurance covering Covid infection and any treatment costs
Unvaccinated travelers are exempt from further testing and quarantine, while the non-immunized remain subject to undergoing a post-arrival Rapid Antigen test at a cost of $50. Those who test positive are then required to quarantine for a full week; those who do not are free to enjoy their beach time as soon as they leave the airport.
The British Virgin Islands are proof that, even though they are now looking to increase revenue after Covid was controlled in the vast majority of the Western World, this does not necessarily mean a full lifting of restrictions. Fortunately for unvaccinated sunseekers, these 5 other Caribbean nations have reopened.
1. The Maldives
Leading the rank, The Maldives has a tourism contribution to its GDP at almost 39%, with the Bounce study finding that tourists bring in more than a billion US dollars into the country annually. It is far, by far and away, the nation the most excited now that Covid is becoming less of a global emergency.
Earlier this year, The Maldives became the 15th country to drop all Covid curbs, meaning vacationers are again welcome under 2019 entry rules. Along with Aruba, this island-nation is one of two destinations on this list where Covid is effectively being treated as an endemic disease: there are absolutely no health documentation required when traveling.
As of March 14, the below apply to all travelers regardless of country of departure or immunization status:
- No vaccination certificates
- No pre-departure testing
- No post-arrival testing
- No quarantine
- No mandatory health insurance
To learn more about which countries have already reopened and which ones still have entry rules in place, make sure you follow all the latest Travel Off Path updates.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.