Planning your next international dive trip in The Post-Covid World.
As the world finally opens, we had planned to use this column to focus on a different destination each month, with information on what you need to know before booking each place, but amazingly, it’s all happening much faster than we thought! So, here’s a round-up of a few of our favourite dive destinations that you can visit right now, and what you need to know before you book that trip. We also look at what countries might be opening soon.
Fiji opened its borders to quarantine-free travel around the same time Australia allowed quarantine-free entry to Aussie residents – just in time for a Christmas dive holiday! The rules have changed a bit since borders first opened, with paperwork and testing regimes becoming a little more relaxed. Check out this very useful FAQ page for more information.
To enter Fiji, you’ll now need:
- Certificate to show your vaccination status. In Australia these are called International COVID-19 Vax Certificate (ICVC).
- Travel insurance showing cover in the event of COVID-19 for self-isolation costs.
- PCR Negative Test result with the specimen collection date no more than 48 hours prior to your flight’s departure or RAT Test within 24 hours.
- A document showing CFC certified accommodation for at least the first three days.
Top Tip. Book your Fiji dive trip sooner rather than later – especially your flights and avoid school holidays.
The Philippines opened rather suddenly last month, and happily the airlines have caught up with demand quickly, with regular, reasonably priced flights to Manila and beyond. Here’s what you need:
- Acceptable proof of vaccination
- Negative RT-PCR test taken within 48 hours before the date and time of departure.
- Valid tickets for your return journey to your port of origin or next destination not later than 30 days from the date of arrival in the Philippines.
- Passports valid for a period of at least six months at the time of your arrival.
- Travel insurance for Covid-19 treatment costs, with a minimum coverage of USD35,000 for the duration of your stay in the Philippines.
Papua New Guinea
The opening of PNG’s international border caught us all (happily) by surprise last month on 16 Feb. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Acceptable proof of vaccination.
- Negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of departure from port of origin.
- International visitors will also be tested on arrival at the airport.
- A completed e-Health Declaration Form. www.pnghdf.info
- If you have tested positive for Covid within the last three months, a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner from your country of departure, certifying that you are no longer infectious.
Top Tip: Insurance is not mandatory, but highly recommended. Currently it is necessary to stay overnight in Port Moresby at the start and finish of your trip to PNG as there are no same day domestic flight connections.
The Maldives reopened its borders back in July 2020, and since December has allowed entry to visitors who present a negative PCR test for COVID-19, taken within 96 hours of arrival.
- Negative PCR test result and certificate
- Proof of full vaccination
- Travel Insurance
- Download TraceEkee App
- Traveller Health Declaration Form. Download HERE.
- Travel Voucher for pre-booked accommodation and/or cruise
Thailand is open to fully vaccinated international visitors with their recently relaxed ‘Test & Go' program.
- A Thailand Pass. Apply HERE.
- A medical certificate indicating a negative PCR test
- Travel insurance with health coverage no less than US$20,000.
- Proof of prepayment for one night’s accommodation at a Safety and Health Administration Extra Plus (SHA++) hotel, which includes the expenses for a PCR test to be taken on Day 1, and a self-administered RAT test on Day 5.
- Certificate of vaccination or recovery.
- Download and install the MorChana application to record the Day 5 RAT test result.
Top Tip: SHA Extra Plus or SHA++ hotels are hotels that meet the SHA standards and provide accommodation in partnership with a certified hospital for testing.
How do I organise Covid tests overseas?
Most resorts and liveaboards can now organise this for you, but it is important to choose accommodation with a nurse or wellness ambassador on staff, or with easy access to a clinic. Ask your travel agent for recommendations.
What happens if I catch Covid while overseas?
In some countries where vaccination rates are lower, this is still a risk, which is why travel insurance is mandatory in some destinations. The level of coverage needs to be adequate to cover your treatment should you become ill, and the cost of additional accommodation should you need to isolate.
Ask your travel agent about the ‘escalation plan’ your chosen resort or liveaboard has in place, should one of their guests become ill – and make sure they have one! Some destinations have developed accreditation programs to ensure tourism operators have these plans in place, so visitors feel safer. For example, choose any of Fiji’s Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) accredited hotels, or Thailand’s SHA++ accredited hotels, and you can be assured you’ll be well taken care of.
Where to next…?
A few regions in Indonesia, including Bali and North Sulawesi, are inviting international visitors to enter the country and isolate for five days at approved resorts, before they can wander around the resort, region, and country freely. Some resorts are well-geared up for this, allowing guests to dine a-la-carte on their veranda, book private time in the pool, and after five days – time to start diving.
While NOT official yet, it is rumoured the Indonesian government will soon relax the mandatory hotel quarantine from five days to three days for fully vaccinated visitors. If this program is successful, then they may lift the quarantine the following month.
Vanuatu just announced a Three Phase plan to open to fully vaccinated visitors once they reach their own vaccination targets. Phase One will see them welcoming guests to Port Vila, with seven days hotel quarantine, Phase Two will see the Quarantine period reduce to three days, and at Phase Three, they will open the other provinces (including Espiritu Santo) to international visitors.