Exactly when holidays will resume is still a tough puzzle, but there is some ray of hope because many countries are gradually opening up – though the advice remains to avoid non-essential travels. The lowering of harsh restrictions especially in some of the worst-hit countries suggests summer holidays might still be possible, though there is no guarantee this is to happen just yet since travel advice changes at short notice due to the unpredictable nature of the virus. In any case, this piece contains details of what we know so far about when holidays will resume.

African Countries

For now, international travels to many African countries are still restricted. Zambia which allows international arrivals, however, requires mandatory 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving in the country. Besides, there are no suggestions about when international arrivals will start in most African countries, so it might be safer to hope that international holidays in Africa might resume towards the end of 2020 if a vaccine is found or sometime in 2021.

Dubai – July

Dubai wants to start letting tourists back into the UAE by July, according to the tourism director-general.

The UAE halted all incoming flights on March 24, with thousands left stranded after the date was moved 48 hours earlier at short notice.

Helal Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, told Bloomberg TV: “Many countries remain closed and it’s more about the bilateral discussions.

“Is it going to be July when things start slowly opening up? Is it going to be September? We just need to make sure we’re ready if things come earlier than expected.”

Hotels are already slashing prices by 60 per cent to encourage tourists to return, but no plans have been put in place for the arrival of international visitors as of yet.

France – 2021

The Louvre Pyramid at Louvre Museum Paris, France

France has been the strictest on resuming overseas travel, with even domestic tourism looking unlikely this summer. Local hoteliers and tour agencies are fearing tourism won’t be able to return until 2021. Chateaux owner Stéphanie Gombert told Forbes: “I doubt for the whole year we will have any international tourists.”

President of the Departmental Tourism Committee, Sylvie Chevallier added: “We know that foreigners will not return in 2020.”

It was recently announced that people arriving in France will be subjected to 14-day quarantine rule – but no dates have been given for the relaxation of international visitors.

Spain – August

Spain enforced one of the strictest lockdowns, banning people from going outside unless near their own homes. They have started lifting restrictions, with beaches opening by next month to locals but there are conflicting views on when international guests will be able to return. The islands, which rely on tourism, are calling for holidaymakers to return by next month.

However, Majorca is likely to only see German tourists by July at the earliest, with most international tourists expected by August.

The Canary Islands are less positive – the island’s president Angel Victor Torres told Spanish daily El Mundo: “In October, November or December, which are good months in the Canary Islands, we can begin to receive tourists from other countries.”

Except the current speculation from ministers and tourism leaders, the country has not given any specific dates yet for when international holidays will start.

Portugal – 2021

Despite Portugal avoiding the same high number of coronavirus compared to Spain, they are also the most pessimistic about the return of tourists. The Algarve fears that tourists might not come back until 2021.

Eliderico Viegas, head of the Association of Algarve Hotels and Tourism Enterprises, warned that “many hotels won’t open this year”. He explained to Bloomberg that even if the country handles the pandemic well, he doesn’t expect tourists to return to the region until April next year.

Until then, the industry will have to rely on domestic holidays with local bookings – although fears this is “insufficient” in keeping them open.

Italy – July

Italy was initially one of the hardest-hit countries by Coronavirus, but is also starting to reduce their lockdown measures. International holiday could return by this summer, with bars and cafes set to open by June 1.

Giorgio Palmucci, president of the Italian National Tourist Board, told local media: “We will only start (with tourists) from the European Union, and at the earliest, in July or August.

“The problem is that, unlike other sectors, tourism relies on reservations, so the window of time open for operators will be really tight.”

If coronavirus cases spike, tourism won’t be able to return, however.

Greece – July

Mykonos Greece

Greece is the most positive that international tourists will return by June. Greece’s tourism minister Harry Theoharis said: “Our goal is for the season to begin in July and perhaps extend through October or November. “Tour operators are hopeful and just waiting to see what the health safeguards, the new rules, will be.”

The lockdown is slowly being lifted across the country, which includes the opening of hotels next month. While the predictions are positive news for tourists, governments are still to confirm the return of holidaymakers.

Cyprus – June

Cyprus hopes to welcome back tourists by June. Initially, Cypriot deputy tourism minister Savvas Perdios said: “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.”

However, he later told Sun Online Travel that the UK was also included: “We love taking care of the British people.

“There are a lot of British people living here. Whenever others are ready to visit our island we will welcome them with open arms.”

While optimistic, this hasn’t been confirmed by either the UK government or Cyprus, with new measures needing to be introduced before Brit can safely return.

Bulgaria – July

Holidaymakers could return to Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach as soon as July as the country reduces its lockdown measures.

A state of emergency was declared on March 13 with travel bans, the closure of educational establishments and many businesses, as well allowing the police to intervene against those breaking the rules.

This will now expire on May 13, with plans to open resorts in the next few months starting from July 1.

Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov announced recently: “We are moving towards actions related to the gradual restoration of social and economic life, with a focus on measures that will remain in place.”

To encourage tourists, beaches will also offer free loungers, sunbeds and tables when they open again for business.

National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria leader Valeri Simeonov warned that even worst cases scenarios could see tourists again by August.

He explained: “We all very much want the tourist season to open as soon as possible. If things turn out to be worse, it may be August.”

Turkey – August

Tourists might just miss out on returning to Turkey for the summer season. Mr Ersoy explained that Turkey is expected to begin going back to normal life by the second week of May – but tourists will have to wait longer.

The tourism minister added that while some tourists may be welcomed back by the end of June, other countries, including those in Europe, may not be able to enter the country until the end of July at the earliest.

This could also change at the last minute depending on the spread of the virus across Europe.


With resumption of holidays still subject to how the Coronavirus is managed, holidaymakers are looking beyond 2020, many are booking holidays in 2021 instead due to uncertainty surrounding travel this year.

If you’ll like to book a post-covid-19 trip, click here


Credit: Kara Godfrey, The Sun


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Michael Alvin

Michael Alvin

Creative Writer
Michael Alvin is a lawyer and a UNESCO certified journalist. At Afro Tourism, he blends creativity with his training in telling moving stories about his personal experience on his various trips across Africa.
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin
Michael Alvin

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