Destination Travel Guide
Amidst COVID-19, Some Countries Are Offering Travel Insurance to Boost Tourism
In an effort to invigorate the tourism industry, some countries have taken travel insurance into their own hands. Portugal has released a new travel insurance offering that includes coverage for medical, surgical, hospital, and prescriptions tied to COVID-19. The country has high hopes of encouraging travel while ensuring the health of all visitors entering the country.
The bold move comes off the heels of an ongoing pandemic that has all but halted the global travel industry. The aim is to offer a way for tourists to visit the country without worrying about the dangers of COVID-19. Historically, Portugal has relied heavily on the tourism industry. During the summer of 2019, the country generated an estimated 3-billion Euros. 2020 has been disastrous for many European countries as COVID-19 has complicated international travel with endless restrictions to preserve the public’s health.
Portugal Offers Travel Insurance that Address COVID-19 Concerns
Consumers have been long subjected to complicated restrictions and exceptions buried in the fine print of travel insurance. This move by Portugal could pave the way for other countries to restart their tourism industry.
The coverage itself extends to the entire country and also includes some of the elements of traditional travel insurance, such as trip cancellation and interruption. Turismo de Portugal has implemented several new measures to promote travel within the country on top of this new travel insurance offering. The “Clean and Safe Seal” is a stamp that many businesses can display informing tourists that their business is complying with strict health and cleaning guidelines to ensure their safety.
The country has also created the Portugal Health Passport that offers special prices on urgent healthcare services at participating hospitals. The product aims to ensure that tourists receive the highest quality of care possible throughout their visit by pointing tourists to vetted hospitals and healthcare professionals should they need their services.
Travel Insurance Might Not Be Enough to Lure Tourists
Portugal isn’t the only country pushing to boost its economy by luring travelers back into the country. Spain’s Canary Islands launched a new initiative to boost tourism by offering free travel insurance covering expenses related to COVID-19. Medical expenses and repatriation are included; however, the caveat is that this offering only applies to visitors who contract the virus during their visit, not if they contracted the virus prior to entering.
Despite these countries’ best efforts, many tourists, including those from the United Kingdom and Canada, must self-quarantine for two weeks upon returning from travel, effectively discouraging international travel. However, Spain and Portugal, are some of the world’s first countries to open their borders for business, offering a glimpse into what international travel could look like in the future.
Why Wait When You Can Travel with CAP™
For those interested in partaking in international travel, there are products that offer comprehensive travel benefits that address pandemic threats.
Travelers do not need to wait for countries like Portugal to provide all-encompassing travel products that speak to pandemic threats. CAP™ responds to pandemic threats and doesn’t require the customer to test positive or be hospitalized to qualify for emergency transport or, if necessary, repatriation.
Learn about the many benefits of CAP™ and travel the world with confidence.
Learn the Ins and Outs of Travel Bubbles
COVID-19 has put an abrupt hold on both business and leisure travel. Closed borders, complicated restrictions, and self-isolation orders are just some of the few reasons to encourage travelers to stay home. But for those eager to get back to a new ‘normal’ of international and domestic travel, it will likely be in the form of a travel bubble.
Travel bubbles are emerging as a way for certain countries or regions to reintroduce business and leisure travel during the COVID-19 pandemic safely. Each has its own set of protocols and restrictions, and often include mandatory quarantines that can last for up to two weeks.
The Atlantic Canada Travel Bubble
Atlantic Canada is one of the world’s first regions to create what is known as the Atlantic Travel Bubble. This bubble is composed of four provinces; P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. They have allowed for non-essential travel between one another under specific provisions. Travelers must prove they reside in one of the provinces within the bubble, and if they are from outside the bubble, they must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival or face significant fines.
Many countries have adapted agreements to loosen travel restrictions but with strict health precautions in place. While travelers might be in a bubble, they must still wear face masks, wash their hands, and maintain social distance throughout their trip.
Certain countries will require COVID-19 testing upon arrival or pay for an expensive exemption status. Travelers are encouraged to research the restrictions of their destination, and the possible complications that could come with purchasing travel insurance during an ongoing pandemic.
Travel Bubbles in Today’s World
The European Union recently created a list of countries that should lift travel restrictions to boost struggling tourism sectors. On July 30th, Europe began allowing travel within their safe list, which included most of Europe except Spain. The list also includes Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay, and China. These countries have shown a decrease in case numbers and have extensive testing strategies to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Each European country has different rules upon arrival, and places like Italy, for example, will require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Business and Leisure Travel Bubbles
Canada and the United States have gradually loosened restrictions on borders, allowing students and those traveling for compassionate grounds to enter. However, anyone entering Canada must still self-isolate for 14 days upon return, regardless of where they are traveling from.
There continues to be an active ban on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States. When this border reopens, non-essential travel could potentially be in the form of a bubble between specific states and provinces.
Countries like Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea have reopened only for special business-related travel. People traveling within this bubble are subject to COVID-19 testing upon their arrival and must quarantine for one week before conducting business.
Learn How CAP™ Can Help You Navigate Travel Bubbles
Many of these travel bubble agreements are subject to change in a moment’s notice and complicate travel arrangements. A COVID-19 outbreak in the Australian province of Victoria quickly halted any plans for such a bubble and could even result in strict lockdowns.
CAP™ travel plans offer response to both medical and security incidents that can occur while traveling abroad. Consumers can experience a fully funded response to global pandemics, violent crimes, medical emergencies, and natural disasters that go far beyond traditional travel insurance offerings.
Experience response that could include emergency relocation or air ambulance services for qualifying incidents such as pandemics. Learn more about the offerings of CAP™ and travel the world with complete confidence. Travel fearlessly™ and be prepared for anything.
Learn more about how CAP™ can help you navigate the complicated process of travel bubbles.
LATEST UPDATES FOR THE WEEK OF 21-28 FEBRUARY
The outbreak of COVID-19 has now reached a global dimension as it has seen a significant increase in cases outside of China over the last week, with significant local outbreaks reported in South Korea, Japan, Iran and Italy.
Defer non-essential travel to China and Iran until further notice.
Travellers to South Korea should reconsider their need to travel due to widespread community transmission.
Travellers to Japan or Italy should exercise caution if travelling to affected areas of the country.
Travellers should note that older adults or travellers with chronic medical conditions are more vulnerable to the virus and should be postponing nonessential travel to any of the destinations above. Before travelling to an affected area, travellers should monitor the latest directives from international health authorities and verify their insurance coverage carefully. Travellers on an essential visit should liaise with their consular authorities, reduce the length to their stay to a minimum, and make contingency plans for evacuation. Travellers should note that lockdown measures could be introduced at a very short notice in areas with sustained number of infections, and if there are any indications that such measures could be introduced, they should leave the location while they still can. All travellers should exercise adequate health measures, including maintaining social distancing, washing hands frequently, avoiding, touching eyes, nose and mouth, and practicing respiratory hygiene; travellers should monitor any flu-like symptoms that could appear up to 14 days after infection.
Significant uptick in confirmed cases and fatalities in Italy
Authorities confirmed new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in several regions, bringing the death toll to at least 29, as the number of confirmed infections rose to at least 1,128 across 13 regions, with Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna the worst-affected. 11 towns in Lombardy and Veneto regions have been in lockdown since 23 February in order to contain any further spread of the virus.
Iranian officials attempt to limit the outbreak’s spread
Public health officials in Iran cancelled classes at schools and universities as well as suspended Friday prayers in Tehran and 22 other cities to try to limit the spread of the outbreak; at least 593 cases of COVID-19 and 43 associated fatalities were recorded nationwide as of 29 February. Restrictions on public gatherings and travel are in place in Qom province, the epicentre of the outbreak, while individuals with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 are subject to domestic travel restrictions and 14-day quarantine procedures nationwide.
Regional impact of Italy’s and Iran’s cases: according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) at least 14 countries reported cases exported from Italy, while another 11 countries reported cases exported from Iran during the week, triggering travel restrictions for travellers from both countries, by both land and air.
South Korea reports more daily cases than mainland China
Authorities confirmed 571 new COVID-19 cases on 28 February, bringing the total number of infections to 2,337, which included 16 deaths. The worst-affected areas are Daegu and North Gyeongsang province, where “special care zones” were declared in Daegu and Cheongdo, with residents advised to remain indoors to limit the spread of the disease.
First cases confirmed in Latin America
Public health officials in Brazil announced the first case of the COVID-19 in a 61-year-old man in São Paulo on 26 February, Mexican health officials confirmed that a 35-year-old man tested positive for the COVID-19 infection in Mexico City on 28 February and Ecuadorian doctors confirmed the country’s first case on 29 February in a 70-year-old resident who recently returned from Spain.
Coronavirus continues to spread within the United States
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) officials in the US announced that public health authorities expect that the outbreak, which has largely been contained among returning travellers and members of their immediate families, will spread. Cases of community spread, unconnected to foreign travel, were reported in California, Oregon and Washington states as of 29 February; travel bans are in place for China and Iran.
Cumulative Confirmed Cases
90,309 Total Confirmed Cases
3,085 Total Deaths
45,602 Total Recovered
As of 3/2/2020, 4:13:08 PM
Source : Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE
ASIA / CHINA / WUHAN
FPI sources are reporting that on January 23 the Chinese authorities have put a lockdown on the city of Wuhan and other urban areas of Hubei province – including Huanggang and Ezhou following the outbreak of the coronavirus that has left over 571 people infected with 17 fatalities. All outbound passenger travel, including air, rail, and long-distance bus transport, has been suspended. In light of this, FocusPoint International is advising against all further, non-essential travel to the Hubei province in China.
The Wuhan coronavirus is currently thought to be a more mild form of the SARS and MERS viruses that takes longer to develop symptoms. The virus infects the lungs, and symptoms start with a fever and cough. It can progress to shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. All the fatalities so far have been in Hubei, the province around Wuhan.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is yet to declare a global emergency over the new virus. Chinese authorities have suspended all flights and passenger train services out of Wuhan. Bus, subway, and ferry services have also been shut down. A specialized command center has been set up in Wuhan to contain the virus.
FPI advises travelers in the region to reduce the risk of infection by avoiding people who are sick. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you are sick and have reason to believe it may be the Wuhan coronavirus, due to travel to the region or coming into contact with someone who has been there, you should let a health care provider know and seek treatment early. Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze and disinfect the objects and surfaces you touch. If traveling to China, be aware of symptoms and avoid live animal markets, which is where the latest outbreak began in Wuhan.
Travelers in the region are advised to partake in local precautionary measures, such as temperature screenings and necessary vaccinations.
FocusPoint International is monitoring this developing situation. FocusPoint’s Crisis Response Center is prepared to provide member assistance 24/7. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time, day or night.
CRC / JLL / KRD / BAG
Planning Travel to Areas That Have a Nexus With Potential Exposure?
CAP™ Travel Assistance Plans include 24/7, unlimited advice and coordinated, in-country crisis assistance up to and including evacuation for Pandemic Outbreaks. Engaging CAP™ requires no additional fees, claims forms, deductibles, reimbursements or subrogation to other insurance programs. CAP™ Travel Assistance is not insurance. CAP™ Travel Assistance Plans will not indemnify or reimburse customers for expenses incurred directly by the CAP™ customers.
Travelers who have already purchased a CAP™ Plan: For immediate emergency assistance please call +1.619.717.8549
For the past nine weeks, discontent and disillusionment have been brewing in Hong Kong (HK). Savvy business and leisure travelers recognize that the ascending temperature caused by the underlying anger leads to an unsafe environment. This is evidenced by the violence that has fueled a vigorous and prolonged protest against the HK Special Administrative Region of the PRC authorities’ recent extradition legislation.
What started as discontent with controversial legislation is now a new and novel form of travel crisis threat. Typically, an opposition group manifests against government policies, and that government cracks down on protestors all while violence escalates by action and re-action against opposing factions. Then, a foreign state/exterior relations office, after monitoring the ‘brewing’ of events, indicates to its citizens not to travel to the nation or region where the upheaval is taking place and that all citizens, under the foreign relations office jurisdiction, must evacuate. This is a typical political evac trigger.
To date, there is no foreign office warning to ‘evacuate’ Hong Kong, rather some foreign offices state ‘use caution’. Protesters themselves are warning international travelers NOT to visit the country. This new version of self economic and political stability sabotage has created a subversive crackdown on protesters. Masked men assaulted and injured commuters and protestors at a busy HK metro station on July 22. In short, as a foreign traveler to Hong Kong, it is likely that your government foreign affairs office will be concerned about the situation but have yet to label Hong Kong a conflict or hostile zone requiring a ‘mandated’ evacuation.
Five years ago, FocusPoint International (FPI) began to provide a crisis response membership called Crisis Assistance Plus CAP™ to address the evolving threat of political violence. Regardless of triggers, government mandates, or travel warnings; if your safety, during a period of travel, is jeopardized by actions that result or pose an imminent threat of violence, it is FPI’s service guarantee to advise, assist, provide safe harbor and if necessary, evacuate the traveler home. Travel Fearlessly! Less
Cuts Highlight the Importance of Medical and Security Travel Assistance Plans
The out-of-country travel assistance support that Ontario travellers have become accustomed to from the Ontario Health Insurance Plan might be left behind.
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has recently proposed to cut coverage for emergency medical travel assistance costs that are included with OHIP. Currently, travellers leaving the country can claim up to a maximum of $400 per day for inpatient higher-level care, and an additional $50 per day for emergency outpatient care. The proposed changes could take effect as early as October 1, 2019.
The Ontario government, led by Doug Ford, is justifying the cuts to address what is known to be a multi-billion-dollar deficit plaguing the province. Public feedback will be accepted on the proposed cuts until April 30.
Experts Believe Provisions from OHIP’s Travel Assistance Program was Already Limited
Pundits throughout the Ontario government say that OHIP’s out-of-country coverage is already limited in nature, oftentimes covering only pennies for each dollar a traveller must spend for emergency medical expenses.
Global travellers could incur tens of thousands of dollars of expenses if they experience a medical emergency, which leaves a significant need for travellers to purchase their own coverage. Many reach out to travel insurance, and travel assistance companies like FocusPoint for the most comprehensive coverage when leaving the country.
Solutions to Your Travel Needs Are Already Available
“The proposed cuts by the Ford government reaffirms the importance of comprehensive coverage for global travellers,” says Greg Pearson, CEO of FocusPoint International.
“CAP™ has been successful in offering thousands of global travellers coverage far beyond what OHIP provides and will be providing. We continue to encourage travellers, including seniors and snowbirds, to seek out the best possible coverage for their trip, big or small.”
About CAP™ Medical and Security Travel Assistance Memberships Offered by FocusPoint International
Travel insurance plays an important role for many travellers, and to consider travel assistance memberships like CAP™ to protect the wellbeing of yourself, and your family under any circumstance.
CAP™ offers comprehensive medical and security travel assistance benefits, where travel insurance, and OHIP does not. The CAP™ travel assistance benefits structure and speaks to the needs of those with pre-existing medical conditions provides dedicated crisis response and assistance for natural disasters, and terrorism, including injuries due to criminal violence, and worldwide medical and security emergency evacuation services.