It’s far too early to celebrate, but around the world consensus is beginning to build in the scientific community that covid-19 is weakening.  Even in some of the worst hit countries like Italy, scientists are proclaiming “In reality, the virus clinically no longer exists”. Better yet, remaining strains aren’t proving as devastating. Much remains to be seen, but on the positive news, along with desperate economic needs, countries are looking to open borders much sooner than expected.

It’s becoming so contentious, some are even offering free testing as a perk of visiting.

Life on planet earth has been a roller coaster for as many weeks in 2020 as anyone can remember. When countries like Mexico, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Iceland announced clear cut plans to welcome tourists back as early as June 1st, 2020, early sentiment was that the countries were taking extraordinary risks. Portugal, keen to hold onto the summer season has even opened to US travelers as well.

But in the weeks since those bold first offers in tourism, reports have surfaced from leading scientists believing that what’s left of the dreadful and tragic virus is dying quickly, thanks to the luck of seasonality and very positive signs that reinfection is rare, at best.

Oxford researchers including Professor Adrian Hill noted the virus to be disappearing so quickly in the UK, vaccine studies risk not having enough patients for full trials. In Italy, Alberto Zangrillo, head of San Rafello Hospital near Milan told TV crews “The swabs performed over the last 10 days showed a viral load in quantitative terms that was absolutely infinitesimal compared to the ones carried out a month or two months ago,”.

Zangrillo even went as far as to say concerns over a second wave were alarmist, which was seconded by Matteo Bassetti, Head Of Infectious Diseases at San Martino Hospital, stating “The strength the virus had two months ago is not the same strength it has today, It is clear that today the COVID-19 disease is different.”

The news has countries which previously planned to put off tourism through 2020 scrambling to reverse course. With plexi glass on beaches, free testing at airports and new rules for hotel cleaning standards, destinations are looking to create safe solutions so as not to miss out on the billions in tourism brings to each local economy, in a time when people are struggling.

Early signalling of tourism interest from Spain, Greece, Austria and Iceland has created real demand in a time where it’s still lagging for countries less clear about their intentions. They may have seemed like mavericks just weeks ago, but now they’re looking like the only countries set to recover in the near term. Of course, countries where outside activities are a key draw and social distancing is natural are at an advantage.

To tackle confidence concerns, the World Travel & Tourism Council has created standardized guidelines which can cross borders, offering stamps of approval on the measures taken by airlines, restaurants, hotels and even destinations themselves.

Countries including Iceland and Luxembourg have gone as far as to offer free testing to visitors in the first months, as a draw to choose them over others.

People aren’t sure whether they want to travel this month or next, but surveys suggest most respondents plan to travel by the end of 2020, or at least within a year. Knowing which countries are eager to have you makes it a lot easier to create a short list or actually book something, versus countries where waiting on announcements later on has people thinking, but not booking.

Finnair recently announced interesting findings based on a wide survey of passengers, including…

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents expect to fly again within a year
  • Travel restrictions are the biggest concern for customers
  • 61% of respondents are already planning leisure trips to Europe
  • Germany and Spain are the most popular destinations
  • 65% of respondents said the mandatory wearing of face masks would ease their concerns

With Europe’s Schengen Zone set to open external borders from June 15th, and international air links soon to follow, countries throughout Europe and Asia are looking at short term solutions. Just days ago, Thailand ramped up timetables for reopening, with international visitors set to return from July onward, albeit with restrictions.

In the interim, Thailand expects all businesses in the country to reopen in June, before outside visitors. In other words, when and if your passport is welcomed in the country, you should experience the “full” Thailand. Even both Australia and New Zealand are ramping up efforts to modify time tables to get select air routes open again.

Across Europe, the story is much the same, with restaurants, bars and social gatherings beginning to reemerge, with new measures in place to increase distancing and safety. The UK will soon be the only outlier in Europe with plans to initiate a 14 day quarantine, as the rest of the world relinquishes their own.

Donald Trump recently signaled that the US will drop European travel bans sooner rather than later, which is great news for those hoping to plan trips. Currently, the US offers a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory, but the plan isn’t expected to last through the month either.

For travelers, June 2020 will be a big deal in immediate and historic terms. The question is: where will you go, and when?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. “It’s far too early to celebrate, but around the world consensus is beginning to build in the scientific community that covid-19 is weakening.”

    Not sure if there is such a consensus, but I guess “one of the world’s leading travel experts” could never be wrong.

  2. COVID-19, or any other illness do not “weaken.” Even the virus does not “weaken.” And for that matter, the worldwide new cases by day is increasing. It is true that some countries have managed to contain the infection better than others, but thing are not “better” in any stretch of the imagination, in most parts of the world, especially the US and UK, where you appear to frequent more. But again, this is your blog so keep on saying what you want to say.

  3. Any news on travel to Turkey around 11 July? We have a Gulet booked for 26 family members (flights with EasyJet from Luton) but half the group can’t go – either elderly with underlying health conditions, some can’t leave Australia due to their quarantine restrictions, others have been called back to work on 1 July after Furlough so can’t now take a holiday. So we’re hoping Turkey won’t let us in just for and EJ don’t resume Bodrum routes so early…. any info your side?

  4. Looking at US data we still have 20 thousand new cases daily down from peak of 31 thousand 53 days ago.
    Peak daily mortality 43 days ago was 2600 is now down to 1000 deaths a day.

    While this is optimistic we are nowhere near eradicating the virus. While the incidence is on the downward trend the political powers reopened the economy and swayed CDC and experts to interpret the data according to the mold of government agenda.

    I suspect that countries like Greece or Italy with GDP depending on tourism to a large extent can easily sway the talking heads to fit their official agenda. I have not looked at their data however.

    Looking at the big picture perhaps it’s more beneficial to sacrifice a few lives and revive dying economy.

  5. Where do you get your data from? How is COVID19 going away? As a member of the media, aren’t you aware what is happening? The media is focusing away from the virus as it covers all the violence across America…in the meantime people think COVID19 has gone away. Yesterday in my county alone 100 new cases! That is NOT good! The virus is here and no travel blogger has a deep enough understanding of the science behind it to discuss how it is mutating. As an airline pilot I am excited for the return to normal, but lets not mislead.

    1. Well, I think that cases dropping in Europe, Asia and the USA daily is a good sign that it’s in retreat, and I’ll leave the more technical elements to qualified opinions. But when you had 10,000 one day, and are down to single digits, double, or triple the next, that’s generally a good indication.

      The point is that every part of the world is at a different stage. You, Ryan, who have never had a positive thing to say on here despite years of reading may be in a county still not as close to being out of the woods. For that, I am sorry. But in London, where I am writing this, cases are down to low double or even single digits depending on the day, and the linked articles from people who run hospitals, CDC’s or important labs answer the rest of your questions. The fact is, some places hardly experienced any outbreak.

      Indications from those reports (their words, not mine) are that the mutations are weaker and are not as devastating. That could of course change, but I’m simply relaying what’s actually happening outside of the USA (where I believe you are) and what countries are doing about it, from the medical and travel side. I have a stronger feeling your negativity on here will outlive any virus.

  6. Thank you for your positive, data-driven post. Evidence that the blogging community can help move travel recommencement forward rather than perpetuating fear.

  7. Thanks Gilbert.

    Did you read the U/Bonn study (in peer review) that shows the IFR of just .34%?
    And they suspect it’s actually much lower – very close to the flu actually.

    Or, the CDC saying it is likely .26%?

    It’s becoming clear, as SCIENCE and FACTS are shown, that, this virus is about 2-3x as deadly as the flu. Maybe even lower. 99.7% or 99.8% of all people who get it, survive.

    So, when someone says, ‘100 new cases’ – it’s a meaningless number.
    Because, by the math, all 100 people will be fine. 0 will die.

    So, uhm, I’m not sure why we worry about cases when it’s clearly not very dangerous.
    All of this data links up with the early Stanford and USC studies that showed the same thing.

    Also, I don’t get why the science deniers keep screaming it’s the end of the world.
    I thought they were the enlightened ones??

    Everyone likes to be filled with fear it would seem.
    And, once they are scared, they tell everyone else to be scared too?
    I guess.. to justify their own fear?
    It’s very strange behavior, groupthink in action for sure instead of watching the science.


    Flying on Wednesday for fun, air travel picking up.
    Maybe the people screaming in fear can promise not to travel ever again.
    Will make the world a much nicer place to explore 🙂

  8. This is such an irresponsible and misleading article. COVID-19 is not disappearing. I challenge you to publish your source material for these wild statements.

      1. The “Yahoo” article you linked to mentioned two studies in Italy. But gov health officials are withholding judgement:

        “Pending scientific evidence to support the thesis that the virus has disappeared … I would invite those who say they are sure of it not to confuse Italians,” Sandra Zampa, an undersecretary at the health ministry, said in a statement.

        Hardly an exhaustive review of literature.

  9. “Well, I think that cases dropping in Europe, Asia and the USA daily is a good sign that it’s in retreat”, that was also the case in Iran during April, however they have just had 3000 new daily cases, the highest in 2 months, after lifting the lockdown in April, and the number of deaths is starting to rise again. The health minister said that it had become more dangerous. “Last week we had cases of patients dying at the age of 32 or 42 without any underlying disease, due to coronavirus,” he said. So much for Concerns over a second wave being alarmist.

  10. Gilbert,

    You should be happy I have read your page for years and contributed to your comments section. I always welcome opposing views to my thoughts and beliefs and glad you do too. Some bloggers would block posts that oppose them and you don’t. I do appreciate that and other readers should too. If only our president would welcome opposition and listen to all sides. I am sorry that what I share seems condescending but those are my thoughts. I do not mean harm.

    1. Ryan, I very much appreciate this comment and take it to heart. I do value you in that way and I’m sorry if I wasn’t as polite or offered enough discourse as I should’ve for someone who does share interesting view points which at the very least do cause pause for thought. The best to you.

  11. Gilbert – Heading from So. Cal to Cabo for 4th of July. Expect Mexico to be loose with restrictions. Already confirmed that the gym, spa and Buffett will be open at Solaz.

    I’ll be taking advantage of all.


  12. Covid is “disappearing”? You’re wrong on this one Gilbert. You need to change this title if you want people to respect the content you’re reporting.

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