Around the world, travellers from vaccine-poor countries are venturing abroad in a race to get vaccinated against Covid-19, also known as vaccine tourism. In some cases, travellers are after a specific brand of vaccine that is not available to them, in others no vaccine is available at all.
Earlier this year, it was the wealthy who travelled abroad to receive a Covid-19 vaccine. An exclusive travel and lifestyle service concierge provider based in the UK, boasting a membership base rate of circa £25,000 per annum, made headlines when it charged the likes of £40,000 to fly people out to get them vaccinated in ultra-luxury and privacy.
Now, as Covid-19 cases rise and variants affect vaccine production and disrupt worldwide distribution and uptake, destinations are encouraging vaccine tourism for the masses. Russia is offering its Sputnik V vaccine to visitors, New York is promoting itself as a safe place for tourists to get vaccinated, and Maldives is encouraging visitors to combine vacation with vaccines.
Chinese nationals above 16 years old, who hold a short-term UAE tourist visa, can now receive a Covid-19 vaccine in Dubai. A new factory in Abu Dhabi will start manufacturing a Covid-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm later this year under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 (G42).
ForwardKeys’ analysis of flight tickets issued up to May 18 reveals a substantial uplift in international bookings to Texas and Florida, during the fortnight after those destinations opened up vaccinations to all adults, including visitors
The UAE now enjoys the status of being the number one in the world when it comes to Covid-19 vaccination rates of its citizens and residents, having only just administered over 12.1 million vaccine doses in late May.
Meanwhile, the latest research from ForwardKeys suggests that Latin Americans are travelling to the USA en masse to receive vaccination against Covid-19. The trend is most pronounced in travel from Peru, and other parts of Latin America, especially to Arizona, Florida and Texas.
ForwardKeys’ analysis of flight tickets issued up to May 18 reveals a substantial uplift in international bookings to Texas and Florida, during the fortnight after those destinations opened up vaccinations to all adults, including visitors. The US does not require proof of citizenship or residency as a minimum requirement for vaccination.
Bookings from all origin markets to Florida rose from 44 per cent of 2019 levels to 67 per cent, and bookings from all origin markets to Texas rose from 58 per cent to 91 per cent of 2019 levels.
The most eye-opening increases in flight bookings have been to Texas – from Peru, 684 per cent ahead of 2019 levels, followed by Costa Rica, 338 per cent ahead, and from Mexico, 317 per cent ahead.
Analysis of post-vaccination travel reveals that there has been an increase in both bookings for short stays (1-3 nights), particularly for Texas, and an even greater increase in long stays (≥22 nights), particularly for Florida and Arizona, where the proportion of visits exceeding three weeks has more than doubled. This would be consistent with people flying in only to receive a jab and also combining a jab with an extended vacation.
Closer to home, it has also been widely reported that valid UAE residence visa holders have hired private jets from Indian cities to come to the UAE and get their vaccines.
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