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Escaping from Covid to… paradise?

For the better-off it is a mission possible

Hundreds of Bulgarians have been saying no to Covid-19 and escaping for a week or two to… paradise, exotic destinations such as the Maldives, Zanzibar, Egypt, Tenerife, places where the sea is emerald-green, the sandy beaches are dazzlingly white, where there are palm trees and where time has stopped. Amidst the corona-crisis and the resulting chaos, these destinations have become all the rage, with prices being brought down and a flexibility demonstrated with regard to anti-epidemic measures. People travelling to them are not subject to quarantine or self-isolation, the only requirement being a negative PCR test. After which the guests go to their hotels, leaving behind all anxiety and apprehensions.

Of course few can afford such getaways to distant lands. Still, even as restrictions are in place, judging by the number of pre-bookings, hundreds of Bulgarians are getting ready to escape to distant shores.

“I don’t want to wear a mask. I want to forget the stress and strain, I want to forget the coronavirus,” these are the reasons cited most often by people willing to pay up 2,000 or 3,000 Leva for one week in a faraway land.

Krasimir Zlatanov, manager of a specialized exotic travel agency, says that despite the pandemic, there is interest in charter programmes. Which are the most sought-after destinations for a holiday in paradise?

“First the Maldives. In these resorts – island hotels, the only people for whom mask wearing is mandatory are the members of the staff. The customers take their masks off as they arrive, and do not put them back on while they are there. The same is true of Zanzibar, where not even a negative PCR test is required for entering the country. For all that, no Covid-19 cases have been registered so far among tourists,” Zlatanov says.

In his words the people travelling to these destinations now are mostly young people who have either already contracted and recovered from Covid-19, or who are not afraid of catching it. The reason is that a negative PCR test is required practically everywhere and the probability of contracting coronavirus at the airport or on the flight is minimal. In the conditions of coronavirus tour operators have been trying to bring package prices down by organizing off –season charter flights and holidays.

“In Zanzibar, for example, prices in February and March are very high, that is why we organize programmes at the beginning of April, when there is 40% off the packages. On the whole we are succeeding, together with airlines, partners on location and hotels, to get a price reduction,” Krasimir Zlatanov says.

Tour operators and insurance companies were able to get their bearings quickly in the new situation. They are offering health insurance which includes Covid insurance with treatment on location. Tourists are taking out travel cancellation insurance which covers the eventuality of a positive PCR test result immediately before departure.

“Some airline companies are willing to revalidate tickets for another date, though not always. The same is true of hotels though they do not refund the money for the reservation. So that the insurance in question covers that risk as well,” Krasimir Zlatanov says.

Photos: private library

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