In the early half of 2022, international tourism recovered 57% of its pre-pandemic levels. Although the idea of a new normal living started in 2021, most, if not all, countries are only experiencing them this year. With the recovery of the tourism industry, there are significant changes that travelers today need to remember. Unlike a few years ago, travel restrictions in some countries are stricter than in others. Find out some of these places and understand what you can and can’t do upon arrival.
Are Travel Restrictions Necessary?
Travel restrictions and entry requirements are common in several countries before the pandemic. While most constraints today are health and safety-related, many regulations were present to respect the country’s culture, society, and laws. Despite these things, there’s no denying that some countries are now more restrictive in today’s new normal. These make things more troublesome to several tourists, especially in places where travel and entry rules are more lenient.
One great example is the FIFA World Cup 2022 rules in Qatar. The restrictions created by the Qatari government presented caused an outcry from many international fans. But Qatar emphasized that these regulations were essential to respect their religious beliefs, culture, and local laws. A well-known Islamic country, Qatar’s list of restrictions is strict yet understandable.
During the pandemic, travel bans and restrictions were essential to lessen the transmission of the virus from one country to another. But travel restrictions tend to be more useful in ensuring the traveler’s respect for the country’s culture, beliefs, and general safety. Several countries in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa have specific rules for their international guests, especially in their dress codes and mannerisms.
Countries With Strict Travel Restrictions
Several countries have become stricter with their travel and entry requirements for international travelers in the new normal. Although some aren’t as restrictive as Qatar’s rules for the World Cup 2022, other places have similar regulations in certain areas. Here are some of them.
Before the pandemic, entering and traveling to Japan wasn’t as restrictive as their rules in 2022. However, their travel restrictions have become stricter due to the losses during the virus surge in 2020 and 2021. Although the country raised its daily cap of foreign travelers in October and slowly eased the visa requirements and border restrictions, Japan is still restrictive to many foreign nationals.
Among them are same-sex and unmarried couples. While Japan’s perception of the LGBTQ+ community differs in Qatar, traveling to the country with your partner can be more difficult. During the pandemic until early this year, couples unable to show proof of their relationship with official documents are restricted from entering the country. Unmarried couples also faced this problem, making it almost impossible to reunite with their loved ones currently living in Japan. The government encourages these groups to have any documentation or legal files upon entry.
In the past months, Japan stayed true to its promise of easing restrictions on foreign couples, extended families, students, and travelers, but there are still restrictions in place. Self-guided tours or unguided foreign travelers visiting the country are still unacceptable.
When visiting Japan, foreign travelers need to book a tour from registered travel agencies beforehand. Doing this will make the entry process faster and avoid problems with the restrictions. Moreover, travelers can benefit from flexible, guided tours with local guides.
Travelers who love history and sceneries should consider traveling to Poland. This country in Central Europe offers its foreign guests and visitors stunning views of the Tatra mountains and Baltic Sea, historical sites, and delicious Pierogi. Despite its advantages, the country is a bit more restrictive due to the pandemic and the current war between Russia and Ukraine.
Depending on where you entered Poland, travelers may need a visa to enter. Due to the current invasion of Russia in Ukraine, the Polish government discourages travelers crossing via both countries for their safety. If they do, they must apply for a tourist visa.
Upon arrival and at the length of your stay, you have to adhere to Polish laws on drugs and drinking. While Poland doesn’t ban alcohol like Qatar, they have one of the strictest laws on drinking and drug use. No alcoholic beverages are to enter the country, and drinking is illegal in public places like parks and picnic areas. Failure of travelers to follow these laws can face two or more years in jail and being responsible for paying for the costs of a sobering facility.
For the past several years, Saudi Arabia is still one of the world’s most restrictive countries for foreign travelers. An Islamic country like Qatar, Saudi has strict travel restrictions that follow Islamic law. The Saudi Arabian government enforces these regulations and expects their foreign guests to follow them for the local traditions and customs.
Like Qatar, LGBTQ+ and unmarried couples are not allowed to book and stay in the same hotel room. While the Qatari government gave foreign travelers more leeway on this restriction, in Saudi Arabia, doing so is prohibited and more likely to face significant safety risks, even deportation.
All travelers are also required to follow the code of dressing modestly. When packing your clothes for the trip, avoid tight-fitting clothes and clothing with profane images or language. Female travelers don’t need to wear traditional robes as long as their outfits cover their shoulders and knees.
“Cultural sensitivity directly and positively influences the gap in the global image of the destination, so greater cultural sensitivity improves the post-visit image compared to the pre-visit image at a global level.” – Asunción Beerli-Palacio, Professor of Marketing and Market Research, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Prepare, Adapt, Succeed
Traveling is one of the ideal ways to gain knowledge, show appreciation, and enjoy the cultural differences of people in different places. While visiting various countries is now becoming easier and more accessible, some places are enforcing strict travel restrictions. Although they can be a hassle and affect how you want your trip to go, encountering them is an adventure in itself. You don’t need to sacrifice enjoyment because of these restrictions. You only need to prepare everything beforehand and adapt and develop your cultural sensitivity to make your trip bold and successful.
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