What is everyone searching for now? According to Google, everyone is searching for the safest places to book a holiday, as borders start to open, with these three questions (or keywords) ranking amongst the highest for stir-crazy Aussies:
“Where to travel during COVID-19?”
“Where to travel now?”
“Travel no quarantine”
So where can we go next (that’s safe to travel to) for a diving holiday?
Holiday Here This Year
Think about a holiday in Australia first – not just because it’s safe, but because our tourism industry, already suffering due to last summer’s catastrophic bushfires, was the first to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and needs our help to recover. As we head into summer, there are many great diving destinations in Australia – some that you may not even need to cross state borders to reach.
Queenslanders have a great choice, with great diving along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, from Lady Musgrave and Lady Elliot and Heron Islands in the south, to Townsville, Cairns and the Coral Sea in the north.
Where to next? Which Countries are safest?
A recent analysis by U.S. travel company Tourlanes, compiled by an ex-NATO director and security expert, declared Fiji the safest country in the world, and with virtually no community infections, the Pacific Islands would certainly appear to be the safest countries to visit once international borders open.
Tourlanes’ analysis took into consideration key indicators such as COVID-19 cases, health regulations, population density, hours of sunlight, and flight connections. Other diving destinations that featured in the Top 10 include Thailand and Japan.
Whether or not the Pacific Bubble eventuates, countries like the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji all have their own national airline carriers, most of which are still operational, which may make them easier to get to as well.
‘Safe Travels’ a Stamp of Approval for the New Normal
In response to the global pandemic, the World Travel Tourism Council (WTTC) has helped develop a global common standard for ‘Safe Travels’. For a destination to receive a ‘Safe Travels’ Stamp, it must ensure that its safety guidelines meet core requirements across all sectors of its tourism industry.
The Maldives was recently awarded a ‘Safe Travels Stamp’ as a result of the island nation’s strict health and safety measures in response to COVID-19, prior to the country re-opening its borders to tourists.
You’ll start seeing dive resorts and liveaboards publish their individual plans as they prepare to open up again. These include elements such as a checklist for cleaning and disinfection, regular health checks for staff, physical distancing, minimising physical contact and personal protection equipment (PPE).
Some, such as Solitude Resort in the Philippines, have already started promoting their Covid-Safe plans.
Explorer Venturers has also produced a video illustrating the strict measures put in place to keep passengers safe now they have recommenced trips in the Galapagos Islands.
Others, including Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Pro Dive Cairns have significantly reduced or removed single supplement fees, making it more affordable for solo divers to book while maintaining social distancing requirements.
Booking with Confidence
As we’re still having to book future dive trips with some level of uncertainty, it is VERY important to check booking (and more importantly) cancellation policies. In response to this situation, and in efforts to encourage people to start booking dive trips again, many dive companies have established far more flexible terms and conditions.
For example, the Master Liveaboards fleet are currently accepting bookings with no deposit at all for 60 days, and full credit for up to two years should you have to cancel your trip due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions. Explorer Venturers is also offering customers 24 months flexibility should they need to cancel due to Covid-19 related travel restrictions.
IMPORTANT: Diveplanit Travel’s booking and cancellation terms will match those set by the liveaboards and resorts we recommend. We will always advise you of booking terms for your chosen dive resort or liveaboard at time of booking, and we will be recommending resorts and liveaboards with more flexible cancellation policies.