The dilemma of unvaccinated vacationers

Reduced destinations, fewer flights, health rules that can change at any time in the country of departure or arrival: planning a holiday now is a headache. Especially for unvaccinated people, for whom the risk of cancellation and financial loss is higher

“Do you have a good plan for a sunny Christmas holiday for the unvaccinated (no quarantine, no compelling reason, etc.)?”, “Is it possible to go to South America with a transit to the USA for unvaccinated people? ”,“ Friends must go to Germany but are not vaccinated, what should they do to cross the border? ”: these questions regularly feed the Facebook page“ Traveling from Switzerland despite Covid restrictions -19 ”, which has nearly 3000 members.

«Going on vacation is currently an obstacle course, whether you are vaccinated or not, tells World-News.UK Sonja Laborde. The lifting of quarantines upon return to Switzerland announced by the Federal Council on Friday is good news in this sense. » The president of the Travel Professional Association (TPA) notes, however, that travel agencies generally recommend that their customers go through the vaccine box: “Two schools are in conflict. Some only deal with files for 2G people (vaccinated or cured) while others show more flexibility. ”

The risk for agencies is to find themselves in complicated situations. “It is very important that they inform their customers in writing of all the arrangements to be observed in the country they wish to visit. If these instructions are not followed, it is not up to the agencies to cover any cancellation costs. Everyone is free to do what they want, as long as they assume their responsibilities. »

For those who want to avoid any sanitary measure (vaccine, PCR test or even special insurance), the choice of destinations is nowadays reduced to pity. According to the website of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), only three countries are currently accessible from all over the world without any restrictions: Mexico, Colombia and El Salvador.

Holidays without constraints at a high price

Isabelle Devènes left for Mexico in mid-November, for a vacation for two. This unvaccinated Valais, but cured of covid, «wanted to make a trip without constraints, which allows her to live in complete freedom». She therefore contacted a travel agency asking what it was possible to organize in this regard. “It provides some security. With the current uncertainties, it’s complicated to do everything yourself. We don’t know what can happen. ”

And the trip met his expectations. “We left Zurich on a non-stop Swiss flight. We did not have to do any test on departure, just fill out a form when we arrived at our destination. For the return to Switzerland, a PCR test was necessary. We were able to do it at the hotel, it was very well organized. ” Isabelle Devènes had been warned by her agency that in the event of a positive result leading to quarantine, the extension of the stay would have been at her expense. “There is still an adventure side, we do not really know what we are getting into,” she notes, conceding that she has not read all the conditions of the contract.

The only bad surprise in the end, the price of this freedom: “In one week, between the first offer received and the final reservation, the bill increased by 800 francs per person. It shocked me a bit. I think Mexico is a very popular destination right now, but I would have refused to go to a country where you have to do tests every two or three days. «

Higher risk of cancellation for unvaccinated

A finding confirmed by David Léchot, president of the Group of Friborg travel agencies and head of Indalo Space: “Demand is strong on practically all the long-haul destinations that are still open. But above all, the number of flights is generally reduced and they fill up very quickly. For the holiday season, almost everything has been sold for a long time. When there are places left, they are very expensive. »

Mexico and the Dominican Republic — for which a test is not compulsory from Switzerland but can be requested on arrival — are not the most affected by this surge in prices: “The increase is around 5% compared to the pre-covid situation. For Mauritius and the Seychelles, also very popular destinations [with a PCR test and some administrative formalities, but no vaccine, editor’s note], the increase can reach 15 to 20% for the holiday season. »

Another example cited by David Léchot, Cuba, which reopened its borders on November 15 after a year and a half of closure, again without requiring any other measures than a PCR test: “We thought that we could offer this destination to our customers. clients, vaccinated or not. But the flights have been stormed for November and December and there is nothing left. There are expats who want to come home to see their loved ones, rescheduling for flights that have been canceled previously, etc. In general, the current situation does not reflect the reality of the market, and it can last until spring, with an impact on prices. »

More than the agencies, it is according to him especially the unvaccinated or cured customers who take a risk by reserving holidays abroad: “There is not really an ideal destination. The rules can change very quickly. If vaccination becomes compulsory in a country two weeks before the planned trip, the customer will not have time to adapt and will have to bear the cancellation costs. You must be aware of this when booking. ”