According to Kayak, 87
countries are completely closed to arrivals by non-residents and another 112 countries
are restricting arrivals, for example based on the traveler’s point of origin or
by requiring a quarantine.
Those COVID-19-induced limitations are prompting some travel brands to develop creative solutions to serve consumers still wanting to take a trip.
For example, nearly 200 people have purchased tickets on a Starlux Airlines flight this Friday that will begin and end at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan.
The so-called “flight to nowhere” is a joint effort of the airline and Klook, which put the tickets up for sale on its platform on Tuesday and saw them sell out in a matter of seconds, according to a company spokesperson.
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The three-hour flight,
with 180 economy seats and eight in business class, will depart at 11 a.m.
local time, fly over Taiwan’s eastern coastline and pass the Philippines before
making its way back to the airport.
In addition to flight-only tickets, Klook sold flight and hotel packages that include a one-night stay and dining experience at a luxury hotel after the flight. Klook says the package tickets also sold out in a matter of minutes.
“The desire to explore the world remains strong despite international travel restrictions. In fact, people are missing even the most simple travel moments such as using their passport or collecting their luggage at the baggage carousel,” says Marcus Yong, vice president of marketing, APAC, for Klook.
“This initiative is one of several exciting new ways we have planned, to keep the fire for travel and passion for discovering new experiences burning brightly inside of travelers.”
During the three-hour flight, passengers will have access to on-board entertainment, discounted duty-free items and a meal prepared by Longtail, a Michelin one-star restaurant in Taipei.
Similar flights are being offered by EVA Air and China Airlines.
And some cruise lines are also offering trips to nowhere – short-duration excursions that depart and return to the same port without any additional stops.
Two of TUI Group’s lines, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and TUI Cruises, are offering cruises starting and ending in Hamburg, Germany, with passenger counts of just 60% capacity.
TUI Cruises started with three- and four-day journeys in July and now is extending the trips to seven days at sea.
“The response from our guests to the short ‘Blue Voyages’ was very good. Therefore, we are now going to extend it and are convinced that the longer panorama trips offer a good alternative for summer vacation on land,” says Wybcke Meier, CEO of TUI Cruises.
Carnival Corporation’s AIDA Cruises brand was set to resume service with sea-only itineraries and reduced passenger loads this week, but the company had to cancel the trips because approval by its flag carrier, Italy, is still pending.