After a year when the COVID-19 virus has devastated the world’s tourism industry and thwarted vacation plans of millions of travelers, vaccinations have arrived that offer hope that 2021 may usher in some return to normalcy.
And none too soon for baby boomers, who have seen precious travel time and opportunities slipping away: cruises cancelled, tours postponed, bucket-list destinations closing their borders.
The fact that all this has been necessary to curb the ravages of the killer virus doesn’t make it any less painful — especially when you factor in the economic toll on tourism-dependent destinations. Estimates are that one in ten jobs worldwide are travel- and tourism-related.
I first wrote about medical tourism back in 2013, when it was starting to flourish as a means of saving money on medical care. The premise was that by traveling to other countries — such as India, Mexico, Thailand and others — Americans could receive hip replacements, cardiac surgeries, dental work and other procedures at considerably lower costs than in the U.S.
Then along came COVID-19, with travel to many countries banned or severely restricted. Medical tourism has been one more viral victim.
Today’s guest post, by writer Charlie Fletcher, offers a rundown on the current state of medical tourism — as well as some shoots of hope for the future as the world’s health care and tourism fields struggle to adapt.
By Charlie Fletcher
Medical tourism — the practice of traveling to other countries for affordable medical treatments — had grown increasingly popular among Americans in recent years. Until,… Continue reading
Even as COVID-19 infections reach record highs in the United States, a number of countries have opened their borders to American travelers carrying U.S. passports.
These include popular destinations like Croatia — one of the few European countries now open to U.S. travelers — Turkey, Mexico, and Costa Rica, although some come with major restrictions.
Several Caribbean countries — including Aruba, Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia, and St. Maarten — also welcome Americans and their dollars, all-important to their economies.
Please note that I’m not recommending international travel at this time, especially if you have any reason to believe you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, or — like many baby boomers — you fall into high-risk categories such as advanced age or underlying medical conditions.
Until the COVID threat passes, you’ll also be… Continue reading
When contributing writer Robert Waite told me he was heading from his Canadian home for a family camping vacation in New England, I asked him to consider doing a piece on his experience.
Normally (pre-COVID) crossing the U.S.-Canadian border by automobile has been a relatively simple procedure, albeit one that often required long waits at immigration due to the huge volumes of traffic.
But, as Bob reports, things have changed dramatically.
By Robert Waite
Champlain, NY – Unless you have dual citizenship, perform an essential service, or hold a current student visa, don’t expect to cross the world’s longest border any time soon.
Canada currently bars all non-essential travel to the United States until September 21 – and there is every expectation the ban will be extended at least another month.… Continue reading
So it’s official: the 27-nation European Union will block travelers from the United States from entering their countries indefinitely after reopening their borders July 1 to a number of other nations, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand — and even China, should the Chinese reciprocate.
So it’s arrivederci Roma, au revoir Paris, and adiós Barcelona — most likely for the summer and probably longer, since the U.S. leads the rest of the world, by far, in confirmed cases of both COVID-19 infections and deaths. And there’s little hope of this tragedy slowing down in the near future, with the virus currently sweeping like wildfire across the American South and Southwest, including the three most populous states: California, Texas, and Florida.
The outlook is equally bleak in Arizona, where I’ve lived for the past five years — and where I’ve seldom ventured from my home for the past three… Continue reading
Among our far-flung correspondents is Jade Chan, who writes for The Star, an English-language newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Jade was on vacation in New Zealand just days and hours before that country — as well as Malaysia and Australia (where she had to transit) — severely limited travel to combat the coronavirus threat. Getting home was something of a trial — “I was ‘saved by the bell,'” as she puts it — but at least she wasn’t stranded for weeks on a cruise ship.
I’ll let Jade take it from here (note that a somewhat different version of this piece originally appeared in The Star).
By Jade Chan
My family had planned for a holiday in New Zealand more than half a year ago, and departed for the Land of the… Continue reading