Vacationers seek return to outdoor adventures, safe cities

By LISA KLEIN

Although the pandemic continues to cause hiccups for would-be travelers, many favorite destinations are now open to adventurers this year.

While country-specific rules and solid plans may be up in the air for the foreseeable future, locations in South America, Africa and Europe are especially popular vacation spots for the coming year, many offering fairly COVID-safe activities that put holidaymakers at ease.

“We still see most of our guests proceeding with caution,” said Gwen Kozlowski, president of travel agency Exeter International. “We also see guests who have, sometimes repeatedly, delayed travel and they simply don’t want to wait any longer. They’re ready to travel to any spot where it’s feasible.”

Up in the air

Over the past couple of years, travelers have sought to find destinations to escape to while remaining safe and healthy. Several areas worldwide fit the bill and will continue to be major draws this year.

According to Ms. Kozlowski, Croatia and Montenegro in Europe have skyrocketed in popularity throughout the pandemic.

“Both countries were open throughout the pandemic with strict testing protocols in place and the past two years have seen tremendous growth here in the tourism infrastructure, from fantastic new experiences to world-class resorts and hotels,” she said.

Hvar, Croatia. Photo by Cyril Mazansky, courtesy of Exeter International

Farther afield, African safaris make for perfect socially distanced trips. South Africa is expected to be a hot ticket for this year.

“Staff at safari lodges have all been vaccinated and you spend your time mostly outdoors and in nature rather than in crowded cities,” Ms. Kozlowski said.

“There is a rush of people all trying to secure space for the 2022 East Africa Great Migration taking place in Kenya and Tanzania from June to August.”

Across the Atlantic, travelers are lining up to tour Argentina, which recently opened its borders to international visitors after one of the longest closures in the world.

“Vaccinated Americans are welcome, and will find a plethora of outdoor options, from the glaciers and lakes of Patagonia to the wineries of Mendoza and Iguazu falls, as well as the stunning capital city, Buenos Aires,” Ms. Kozlowski said.

Iguazu Falls in Argentina. Photo by Unsplash, courtesy of Almaz Journeys

Testing times

The Asian continent proves more difficult to visit for now, with many nations still working out their travel policies and restrictions.

“We’re still waiting on Russia to work out its entry policy for travelers,” Ms. Kozlowski said of another destination on the backburner. “For now, it’s problematic, with daily testing required, and that’s simply not realistic for most of our guests.”

In 2022, however, many travelers are willing to deal with the hurdles and maybes for a chance at a far-flung trip.

“This means lots of last-minute plans, as people are more and more comfortable waiting to see the current climate before making a financial commitment,” Ms. Kozlowski said.

“We’ve seen this happen repeatedly with guests,” she said. “When their destination has an issue, they’re unflustered. They simply want to know the options of where they can travel. Then they’re ready to go.”

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