Checking In on Five of Our Favorites

By Ensemble Travel Group  ·  March 2022

Our favorite travel destinations are back in business, and we couldn’t be more excited to visit them once again. Throughout various stages of the pandemic, each of these five countries was hard hit and/or shut down completely. We’re happy to announce all five of these countries are now open for tourism.

Disclaimer: This information is subject to change. For more information on who can visit these five countries and what their entry requirements are, talk with your travel advisor.

1  |  Australia

From the dramatic desert landscapes to lush ancient rainforests to coastal cities fringed with golden beaches, Australia is known around the world for its natural beauty and dazzling cityscapes. There’s also a rich culture which can be summarized as a love for nature and wildlife, a sense of adventure, and an enjoyment of living life outdoors. While some things have remained the same Down Under, in recent years, everything from food to fashion has had a fresh new makeover, and plenty of new tourism experiences and places to stay have opened in hidden corners of the country. After a 20-month closure, the country began to open at the end of February. Only fully vaccinated travelers are permitted to enter, and they must show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test before departure.

2  |  Italy

Wine country, Italian cuisine, spectacular coastlines, stunning architecture and art museums, and exceptional culture – Italy is a country comprised of several bucket list destinations. From small Tuscan towns to metropolises like Milan and Rome to picturesque coastal cities, the options in Italy are endless and one trip just isn’t enough. While Italy was one of the hardest hit countries at the onset of the pandemic, its borders have reopened for tourism. Currently, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers can visit Italy, but you need to either be fully vaccinated or have proof of recovery from a COVID-19 infection within the past six months. You must also provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival or a negative antigen test taken within 24 hours of arrival, to avoid self-isolation.

3  |  New Zealand

New Zealand offers incomparable space to explore. Discover unique wildlife in its natural habitat, from the nocturnal native kiwi to the rare and impressive sperm whale. Admire the magic of a clear night sky, or be first in the world to see the sun rise over an endless ocean. Witness the impressions rivers have carved across the landscape over centuries and the geysers bubbling up from underground. Observe the place where two oceans collide, or explore lush native bush and beautiful botanic gardens. New Zealand has what it takes for a perfectly unique and intimate experience. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country adopted very strict policies meant to suppress the virus. Its zero-COVID strategy made it one of the world's most closed-off nations, but this has started to change. The country is opening up with a five-phase plan; however, it’s still harder to visit New Zealand than these other four countries. In all five phases (most Americans and Canadians will fall under phase four), visitors must be fully vaccinated and self isolate for 10 days.

4  |  South Africa

Known around the world for its breathtaking scenery, captivating natural beauty, incredible wildlife, and cultural diversity, South Africa is a true destination of choice. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the country placed the destination on travel ban lists but, fortunately, some of these restrictions have since been lifted. Most tourists like to go on a safari in the African reserves to see the Big Five, take a city break in Cape Town which allows them to explore the coastline and beautiful beaches, explore part of the regional wine route, retrace the steps of Nelson Mandela, and immerse themselves in the vibrant South African culture. While anyone can travel to South Africa, subject to the usual visa regulations and a negative COVID-19 test, not all borders are open and there are strict protocols to follow.

5  |  Spain

Although the Spanish people are known for their midafternoon siestas, there is no lack of livelihood in Spain. From its energetic Mediterranean beaches, iconic architecture wonders, and world-renowned Flamenco dancing, to its endlessly flowing sangria, delectable paella, and famous tapas-style of eating, the country is a cultural phenomenon. While Spain announced last June that no vaccines or COVID-19 tests were required to enter the country, they changed their rules this past September requiring all travelers to be vaccinated or show proof of a recent infection no more than 180 days prior to visiting. Some unvaccinated travelers who meet exceptional situations are permitted to enter with a negative COVID-19 test.

 


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