More travel news from around the world with Travel editor Stephen Scourfield
LIGHT & DARK
Its been an emotional, sun-and-rain week.
After 697 days of pandemic-induced isolation, WA opened to the world as we watched a 60km Russian military column closing on Kyiv.
I’m guessing you are reading this because, like me, you’re engaged with the world and its people. Some of us will have spent time in Ukraine and know people there, and also be thinking about everyday Russians. What happens in the world impacts us forcefully and personally, because we travel.
More than 23,000 people will have flown to and from Perth on 31 Qantas and Jetstar flights this week. Airlines are ramping up their schedules, with Singapore Airlines leading the international way, as you may read on page 4.
In Bali, the Government is set to trial receiving international travellers without quarantine from March 14 — and maybe before that, if the downward trend in COVID-19 cases continues to improve in the next week. International visitors will just have to show proof of hotel booking payments for at least four days.
New Zealand’s international border has started to reopen after about two years mostly shut off from the world, too. Fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents in Australia can now return and isolate at home for seven days, taking two rapid antigen tests.
On Thursday, German authorities removed all countries from its high-risk list. All travellers can enter without pre-entry testing or quarantine.
All COVID-related restrictions have been lifted in Iceland. Travellers will no longer have to provide proof of vaccination or prior infection. There are no restrictions on gatherings or quarantine requirements for anyone who has COVID-19.
Sri Lanka has ditched requirements for travellers to have taken either a PCR or RAT test. Guidelines issued by the Health Ministry just require two-dose vaccination. But India on Wednesday extended a ban on international flights indefinitely despite a significant drop in daily COVID cases.
None of us want to travel without insurance, of course . . .
covermore.com.au: “We provide several COVID-19 travel insurance benefits across our international and domestic plans. As of February 2, many COVID-19 travel insurance benefits are still available on all our plans; however, coverage varies between our Domestic Plans and International Plans, and across our three tiers of cover: Basic, Comprehensive, and Comprehensive+.”
1cover.com.au: “If you’re travelling internationally, our travel insurance provides cover for your medical costs if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 by a qualified medical practitioner. This cover includes costs resulting from any overseas hospital medical treatment, ambulance transportation or repatriation back to Australia.”
nibtravelinsurance.com.au: “Cover for some coronavirus-related events is available on all our plans (excl. the Cancellation and Additional Expenses Plan), but the types of benefits and benefit limits vary.”
comparetravelinsurance.com.au: “Some insurers have ceased selling policies while they work with their underwriters to develop new products or revise existing policies to provide some level of COVID cover. Not all policies listed include COVID cover. It is important to read the PDS to determine if the cover suits your needs.
ON THE WATER
Brazil has announced a cruise restart, dropping restrictions on international passenger ships. Sailings are scheduled from April 18, with the big 2022-23 season starting in October.
Norwegian Cruise Line has up to 30 per cent off bookings, and a $US200 onboard credit for bookings until March 24, 2022. Travel agents and ncl.com
UNDER THE WATER
Whale sharks have been spotted on Ningaloo Reef, along Australia’s Coral Coast. With a 97 per cent “interaction rate” last season, World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park is one of the most reliable places to swim with the planet’s biggest fish. Whale shark swim tours will begin this month from Coral Bay and Exmouth, and continue to late June in Coral Bay and late July in Exmouth. Whale sharks migrate here to feed on plankton and krill. Australia’s Coral Coast chief executive David O’Malley attributes the success of the region’s whale shark swim season to a specialist group of licensed professionals who provide a sustainable and memorable tour experience. australiascoralcoast.com.au
Qantas has special fares between Perth and Exmouth from now until December. One-way tickets are from $159 during low season and $169 during high season.
There are also greatly reduced one-way hire car rental fees between Perth and Exmouth with Avis Australia and Hertz. australiascoralcoast.com
Some operators along the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley have decided not to open this season. Home Valley Station, Honeymoon Bay, Diggers Rest Station, Mornington Wilderness Camp and Charnley River-Artesian Range Wilderness Camp will remain closed for 2022. Others, including El Questro, Mt Hart Wilderness Lodge and Mt Elizabeth Station will open.
The inaugural Coastrek Margaret River is in October. Coastrek is a fitness team trekking challenge which aims to get more women moving in nature. Participants can walk 60km, 45km or 30km, while raising money for mental health. Coastrek chief executive Di Westaway founded Coastrek in 2009, with 200 people walking the first event. It has grown to five events around Australia, with around 3000 taking part last year and raising about $6 million for Beyond Blue’s 24-hour support service. Di also holds the world record for the highest handstand, at 6982m above sea level on Mt Ama Dablam in Nepal.
LIGHT & DARK
And finally, back to where I began with this column . . . with the light and dark of the week. I’ve been contacted by readers who are deeply affected by what is happening in Ukraine, even though they haven’t been there, and don’t personally know anyone there. They just feel connected to the world. I’ll turn first to a spokesperson for the
UK mental health charity Mind, who says it’s perfectly normal to feel very upset from afar.
It’s healthy and natural to feel distressed by what is happening. That’s both empathy and sympathy. But a spokesperson for Anxiety UK also advises to ease the anxiety by simply eating well, going outside, taking breaks from following the developments, connecting with others, and resting.