One of the strategies for keeping international travel afloat during the pandemic was the creation of ''travel bubbles'' : alliances between neighboring nations with low infection rates that would allow travelers from those countries to freely visit.

But as the summer draws to a close and infections continue to pop up, it appears that, in many places, the travel bubble has burst.

There was a lot riding on the alliances. The pause on international tourism doesn't just spoil family vacations; it affects the global economy to in profound ways, too. 

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that about one in 10 jobs are related to tourism and travel. For popular destinations like Greece, where the tourism sector is responsible for about 40 percent of jobs, the effect is eleven more significant.

In May, New Zealand and Australia garnered attention when they announced a plan to create one of the first travel partnerships during during the pandemic.

''The Transman bubble'' would allow citizens of each country to travel to the other without a quarantine or a test. The hope was to enact it by early September, but in early August, a coronavirus outbreak in the Australian state of Victoria put those plans on hold.

For a while Europe seemed to represent the best hope for getting tourism going, and it began with the bubble concept.

On May 15, the Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania created the first travel bubble in Europe, later that month Hungary and Slovenia agreed that their citizens could continue to travel between the two countries.

Soon, much of Europe became a giant bubble. The European Commission created ''Re-open EU,'' a site listing travel rules within European countries. Each member country began easing restrictions at its own pace.

Italy and Germany for example, opened quickly to travelers arriving from inside the European Union or the border-free Schengen zone. Britain also began opening up to its neighbors.

The welcome mat wasn't rolled out long, though. Flare-ups of the virus caused borders to shut on short notice, disrupting travelers plans.

In late July, Britain abruptly announced that travelers returning from Spain would have to self-quarantine for 14 days, just a few weeks after it had opened restriction free travel to the country. In mid August, 

British vacationers in France had to either rush home to beat newly announced restrictions, or face two weeks of quarantine when they returned.

Asia, too, has had its burst travel bubbles. Thailand had hoped to invite travelers from nearby countries with low virus rates, such as Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea to visit without requiring self-quarantines on arrival. New waves of viruses canceled these plans.

While some countries jointly announced agreed-upon travel bubbles with neighbors, others created de-facto ones by publishing lists of which nearby countries residents were allowed in and under what circumstances.

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Status research on The World Continues. The World Students Society thanks author Julie Weed.


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