How will the Russian invasion of Ukraine affect your next trip?
Whether you’re gearing up for spring break or planning a summer vacation, you’ll probably want to know how the Russian invasion of Ukraine will affect your upcoming trip.
And you’re not the only one.
As the invasion of Ukraine continues, travelers have many questions. They want to know if Russian airspace is open and if they can still fly to Eastern Europe. And then there’s the upcoming summer travel season, which is more uncertain than ever. No one knows what will happen next, but that hasn’t stopped experts from making predictions.
I have spent most of this week surveying travel agencies and travelers about the situation and have published the results. in my Washington Post column. On Friday, I was the featured guest on several television and radio programs on the situation in Russia. And let me tell you, the situation is quite confusing.
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Here are the most common questions about travel after the Russian invasion
Is Russian airspace closed?
Indeed, yes. In his State of the Union address this week, President Biden announced he was closing US airspace to Russian planes, joining the European Union and Canada. This mainly affected Aeroflot, which operated flights to Miami, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. In return, Russia closed its airspace in a move that could affect routes to Asia.
Can US citizens travel to Russia?
Yes. But the State Department warns against this. In one February 28 travel advisory, the government has urged US citizens to avoid traveling to Russia after what it calls “the unprovoked and unwarranted attack by Russian military forces in Ukraine”. He also cited the potential for harassment of US citizens by Russian government security officials and the US Embassy’s limited ability to assist US citizens in Russia. The situation along the Ukrainian border, he added, is “dangerous and unpredictable”.
Is Russia open to tourists?
Technically, yes. If you think it’s safe to ignore the State Department’s warning and you can get a visa, you can still travel to Russia as a tourist. But travel experts say many Americans are unlikely to go ahead with their plans amid the invasion. “Tourism in Europe will continue,” says Alan Fyall, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “But to destinations deemed safe.”
Do I need a Covid-19 test to travel to Russia?
Foreign nationals must present a negative PCR test when boarding their plane and upon arrival in Russia at border control, according to Russian tourism officials. The tests are only valid for two days. The date of collection of the test sample on the test result should indicate that it was collected no later than 48 hours before entering Russia. If you are Russian, you can get tested within three days of your arrival.
How will this affect summer travel? This is the view from South Africa
To get an idea of how the invasion of Ukraine will affect summer travel, you need to go to a place where it’s already summer: South Africa.
“People still want to travel,” says Melanie Shepherd, chief executive of The Key of the Mountainsa boutique hotel near Cape Town.
The recent omicron wave, first reported in South Africa, has crippled business. But now it’s coming back. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while worrisome, has not changed the trajectory of the recovery.
Ruth McCourt, director of marketing for the Franschhoek Wine Valleysays there is finally a sense of calm in the country, at least when it comes to inbound tourism.
“And unless the war spreads to the rest of Europe, we hope it stays that way,” she says.
The scenic wine regions north of the Cape also attract many Europeans and a few Americans. For a few months, it looked like the summer travel season would be a disaster. But at the end of the summer, tourists suddenly reappeared.
Officials like McCourt say they were surprised by the number of reservations for March and April. As a bonus, South Africa has a second season for safaris which starts in September, so there is a high level of confidence that they will be able to recover some of the business lost to the omicron variant.
What’s next for travellers?
No one knows what will happen next. But when it comes to travel, experts feel confident in making predictions.
“The ban on air travel due to reduced airspace will impact travel to all neighboring European countries and the UK,” said Mahmood Khan, a professor at Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech. “Stock market, currency and oil price fluctuations will impact allied hospitality businesses such as hotels, restaurants and travel destinations. We can expect to see cancellations of trips to Russia, Ukraine and in neighboring countries.
Some of these things have happened before. For example, a tour operator G Adventures emailed clients last week saying it had not only canceled all trips to Russia, but would no longer accept Russian nationals residing in Russia for its tours.
“Unfortunately, these sanctions and enforced global isolation will impact everyday people who may not agree with – and may even be brave enough to protest – the politics of their country,” wrote Bruce Poon Tip, Founder by G Adventures. “However, these sanctions are essential to put pressure on the whole country and invoke change.”
Most companies try to circumvent the problem. Ride and Seek, a tour operator, offers two bike tours in Eastern Europe. Earlier this year, founder Dylan Reynolds changed one of them, which was supposed to end in St. Petersburg, to end in Tallinn, Estonia.
“We still drive to the Russian border, but then we commute to Tallinn for the last evening,” he says. “So far, we haven’t had a lot of customer rejections.”
Here’s How Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Could Affect Your Summer Vacation
Will the Russian crisis affect your spring break or your summer trip? If you’re heading to Europe, almost certainly, experts say.
“While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in its early stages, I believe travel to European countries will be impacted,” says Colleen Alsberg, senior group vacation destination specialist for Journey into the world of the fox.
Alsberg says cancellations so far have been “minimal”. But that could change if the crisis worsens.
“Our customers are travel-ready but are monitoring the situation closely when making travel decisions,” she says.
Of course, veteran travelers know that a crisis can also bring opportunity. This can mean lower airfares to affected areas, cheaper hotel rooms and no crowds.
If you’re a contrarian adventurer, Eastern Europe can be the perfect summer destination. The Baltic States, Scandinavia and Poland might be a bit calmer – and cheaper – than usual.