As the European Commission prepares to present a project to issue a digital vaccination passport, some European Union member countries are ready to recognize the document and are implementing lighter conditions for vaccinated travelers in an effort to rescue summer tourism.
With a tourism industry that provides 27 million jobs throughout Europe and generates around 10% of the E.U.’s GDP, countries across the continent are desperate to encourage the return of summer tourists with the “digital green pass” or vaccination passport appearing as the best scheme to facilitate travel to the E.U.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, supports the project of a common vaccination certificate and the World Health Organization is working on an international certificate.
Whether in digital or paper form, the vaccine passport or proof of vaccination will be issued by the country of origin and will allow travelers to move around Europe and to come to Europe from abroad, without having to do additional Covid-19 tests or enter quarantine.
The document will state the name, date of birth, health system identification, type and date of the test and specific vaccines (date of the two doses taken), including respect for the immunization period according to the instructions for each vaccine.
At the international level
Many European countries already are committed to recognizing passports issued not only in the continent but by other countries at the international level as well.
At the top of the list of countries that have already committed to welcoming visitors who have a vaccination certificate (also known as vaccine passport, Covid-19 passport or corona passport) is Iceland, the first European country issuing Covid-19 passports to its vaccinated citizens.
The country is prepared to recognize vaccination certificates starting with the ones issued by 26 other European countries belonging to the Schengen Area.
Greece and Portugal (especially the autonomous regions of Madeira Islands and the Azores) as well as Georgia, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, are moving in the same direction and starting to implement lightened health measures for vaccinated travelers by issuing vaccine passports for their vaccinated citizens and by recognizing vaccine passports/vaccination certificates issued by other E.U. and non-E.U. countries.
Working with the tourism ministries of the European Union, European Best Destinations (EBD), which is part of the European Commission’s EDEN Network (“European Destinations of Excellence”) has assembled a list of the 15 “best destinations for vaccinated travelers.”
The E.U. website, reopen.europa.eu, provides real-time travel regulations for each E.U. country.
EBD has information on how to get the vaccine passport and how to travel in Europe without a vaccine passport.
Here are the best alternatives for traveling to Europe as soon as you get your passport:
Recognized as the safest destination last summer, Tbilisi has managed to remain among the destinations least affected by Covid-19.
Culture, nature, history, gastronomic discoveries or a city break shopping, Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, is #1 among the most trendy destinations in Europe for the summer.
“Tbilisi is both traditional & modern, open-minded, cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic, truly unique and authentic,” says EBD.
Georgia is open without quarantine or additional testing to vaccinated travelers of all countries.
Madeira, Madeira Islands, Portugal
This destination has remained in the green zone throughout the pandemic thanks to effective health measures that have made it the safest destination in Europe.
Combining safety and leisure, Madeira is the ideal choice for travelers looking for outdoor, nature, relaxation and wellness activities.
The Portuguese government has created a “safe and clean” label to guarantee a safe stay for travelers and has committed to the recognition of a Covid-19 Vaccine Passport.
EBD recommends Madeira as a perfect destination for a honeymooners, romantic or family trips.
It’s also recommended for digital nomads because Madeira has created the world’s first digital Nomad village in Ponta do Sol.
Less affected by Covid-19 than other European countries, Greece quickly established itself as a safe destination in Europe. With restaurants and cafes reopening from mid-April and a wide range of private accommodation (villas, tourist apartments) and miles-long beaches allowing sanitary distances to be respected, Kefalonia is ready for this year’s summer holidays.
Nine islands make up this archipelago considered one of the safest destinations in Europe. A 100% nature destination, the Azores appears as first choice among travelers sensitive to sustainable tourism, protection and observation of nature and ready for beautiful hikes and authentic outdoor experiences in the Azores.
Proof of vaccination will permit entry to the archipelago without additional Covid-19 tests or quarantines. Otherwise, the authorities have confirmed that travelers will be authorized entry with negative test certificates taken less than 72 hours before the trip, without quarantine.
“Our favorite route? Land in Ponta Delgada (main island of Sao Miguel) and stay three nights there, explore the golden triangle: Sao Jorge, Faial, and Pico that include unique hikes, whale- and dolphin-watching and wild flora and fauna,” EBD recommends.
Rethymno, Crete, Greece
A beautiful lighthouse, a Venetian harbour crowded with fishing boats, a fortress, hiking trails on foot or by bike and great beaches are among the summer attractions in Rethymno.
Agia Galini, Plakias, Bali and Adelianos Kampos are among the most famous beaches of the region, along with the famous “Preveli Heart Rock,” a beach that has a very instagrammed heart-shaped rock with various monasteries in the vicinity.
Recently ranked among the most romantic destinations for valentines in Europe, the region is known as the place where the Greek god Zeus grew up.
Iceland was the first European country to put in place the delivery of vaccination certificates for its citizens once they have received their two doses of the vaccine. Iceland also recognizes vaccination certificates issued by other European countries.
“This summer, treat yourself and breathe pure Icelandic air,” recommends EBD. “In Iceland nature reigns supreme with its black sand beaches, lagoons, geysers and waterfalls.”
Cavtat, Konavle, Croatia
Cavtat is considered one of the safest destinations in Europe due to the low count of Covid-19 cases, proximity to airports (in case of repatriation) and hospitals, but mostly due to the health measures taken by the authorities for the wide range of accommodations.
Cavtat beautiful beaches are among the favorite choice by celebrities for an “anti-bling holiday,” to recharge batteries, eat at good restaurants, meet locals, stroll around and bathe in the crystal blue waters around the Konavle region.
Spain has provided an innovative response to the health crisis. After tough restrictions that yielded possitive results to contain the coronavirus, Spain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Maria Reyes Maroto, announced plans to incorporate vaccine passports to safe travel corridors as “an element of safe mobility.”
Spain hopes to be among the first countries to implement vaccine passports to boost its flagging tourism industry.
With lower contagion numbers than other parts of the country, Seville is seen as an oasis during the crisis. “You can enjoy beautiful afternoons in some of the most beautiful Spanish beaches, take road trips to discover the most beautiful castles in Spain and other must-see destinations in the region,” says EBD.
Greece has been among the first countries to agree to the issue of vaccination certificates.
The country already has struck a deal to welcome tourists from Israel if they have a vaccine passport and Cyprus has announced that it will welcome tourists starting May 1 as long as they have had two doses of any vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“For a safe getaway in Europe, Athens is a very good choice,” says EBD. “Athens is a destination that combines safety and leisure with history, shops, monuments, restaurants, cafes and the beach nearby.”
Rubjerg Knude, Denmark
Denmark and Sweden are pioneers on the Covid-19 vaccine passport. Used already to access events such as concerts and exhibitions or to reserve a table at a restaurant, it’s also now used for travel by its citizens.
Now the two countries have committed to recognizing the Covid-19 Vaccine Passport issued by other countries. This passport will be compatible with international certificates (according to the World Health Organization) and with the Vaccine Passports issued by European countries.
Aimed at accelerating the reopening of air travel and assisting the revival of the national economy, Denmark expects the vaccine certificate system to be introduced at the end of the month and to be fully operational around June, when it expects to have vaccinated its population of some six million people.
“Do you want wide open spaces, nature, to put your beach towel away from the crowds?,” asks EBD. “Consider Hjørring in Denmark to enjoy a nature and relaxation holiday. Do not miss to visit the Rubjerg Knude Lighthouse, one of Denmark’s iconic sites. Lost in an ocean of sand, it faces the sea and is located near magnificent kilometric golden sand beaches.”
Rhodes Island, Greece
If Europe is moving forward with the idea of vaccine passports, it owes a lot to Greece. The country has been pressing the E.U. to ‘move more quickly’ on vaccine passport, as Athens seeks to repair a holiday industry that has been severely battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Rhodes Island is one of the best destinations to visit in Greece, according to EBD. “This sublime medieval city is one of the best-preserved in Europe. When visiting Rhodes do not miss The Ancient Acropolis of Lindos, the historic Rhodes Old Town, the Palace of the Grand Master and relax in Agios Pavlos beach.”
Denmark decided in February, 2021, to set up vaccine passport allowing its citizens vaccinated against Covid-19 to safely resume normal life.
The country also is ready to recognize vaccine passports issued at international and European level.
“Once vaccinated in your country of origin and in possession of your proof of vaccination, you can enjoy cafes, restaurants, concerts, without additional tests,” EBD explains.
“Take a bike ride and go green in Copenhagen. Romantics are sure to visit Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid and beer lovers to visit the famous Carlsberg Brewery. Families will Tivoli Park, ranked among the best amusements parks in Europe.”
Canary Islands, Spain
The Canary Islands are open to vaccinated travelers.
Each of the Canary Islands has its own identity and its own offer combining security and conviviality.
There are seven main islands readying for visitors: Tenerife, the largest and most populous, Lanzarote with its still-active volcano, Fuerteventura, the hottest and flattest with miles of beaches, La Palma, the greenest and also the wettest, Gran Canaria at the center is a good compromise for family holidays and sports aficionados who want to trek on its steep hills — which is also the case for the islands of El Hierro, La Graciosa and La Gomera.
Kos Island, Greece
Kos is another of the most beautiful islands in Greece. The ‘perfect Greek island’ for those looking for a holiday combining sea, sun and beaches.
It’s one of the Greek islands with the greatest supply of sandy beaches: windsurfing at Mastichari Beach, bathing in the warm waters of Thermes Beach or in the crystal clear waters of Paradise Beach, long walks on Tigaki Beach located west of Kos Town.
Very committed to the fight against Covid-19, Sweden is among the first countries in favor of a Vaccine Passport for traveling as well as for everyday life.
“Stockholm is the must-see destination in Sweden,” advises EBD. “This cosmopolitan, colorful, innovative, sparkling city is one of the most beautiful capitals in Europe. “
Considered among the cities with the best quality of life, Stockholm is also one of the European capitals with the happiest inhabitants.
EBD enthuses that Stockholm is “perfect for a city break, a shopping spree or a gastronomic stay, Stockholm will also appeal to art lovers with its cultural events and art installations around the city.”