Britons could potentially miss out on certain holiday destinations after the lockdown is lifted, as countries begin to form alliances to rebuild tourism.
Australia, Austria, Israel, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece and New Zealand – all countries that have avoided high Covid-19 death and infection tolls – are said to have banded together in order to restore business ties and tourism among themselves.
Tourists from the select group of countries would still be expected to undergo health checks at the borders and wear masks.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told The Wall Street Journal the nations had ‘reacted early and forcefully and now we’re in a better place’.
Meanwhile, the UK is still in lockdown, having passed the grim milestone of 30,000 deaths on Wednesday, with more than 200,000 confirmed infections.
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Boris Johnson has signaled lockdown measures could be eased as early as next week, but it remains unclear when people will be able to travel abroad again and which countries will accept British holidaymakers.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said this week the country will not open borders with the rest of the world for ‘a long time to come’.
Spain’s Balearic Island’s tourism minister Iago Negueruela implied last month that Britain had destroyed its chance for holidays with its slow response to the virus.
He told local media: ‘There are countries like the United Kingdom that have taken too long to adopt containment measures. That also puts us in a different situation with respect to them.’
It comes as Germany and Italy both suggest that their citizens may be able to go on summer holidays this year.
Federal tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper that Germany was in discussions with other nations.
He added that it would mainly be neighbouring states ‘that can be reached by car’ – for example, Austria, France, Poland, Belgium or the Netherlands – but said he couldn’t write off other regions in Europe yet.
Speaking to Il Fatto Quotidiano, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday that he thought citizens would be able to go abroad if the virus was kept under control.
French President Emmanuel Macron told reporters it was ‘too soon to say whether we can take holidays’ but said he believed citizens would have to stay in Europe.
Claiming all would become clear by the start of June, he added: ‘What I can say is that we will limit major international travel, even during the summer.
‘We will stay among Europeans and, depending on how the epidemic evolves, we might have to reduce that a little more.’
Meanwhile, Greek Tourism Minister Haris Theocharis told the BBC the government plans to slowly welcome visitors back, adding: ‘Travelling by road will be safer initially than flying and we’ll see that kind of tourists earlier.’
Cypriot tourist minister Savvas Perdios implied last month that travels alliances could be created with certain countries in the future, saying: ‘The important thing is that travel agents have Cyprus in mind…there are positive signs from Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the Nordic countries, Greece, Israel and perhaps the Netherlands.’
When questioned on UK and Russia, he replied: ‘We hope to know in a few weeks when tourists will be able to come from these countries.’
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