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International > 2019 Travel News

News for travelers around the world (2019).                         Share

In complement to our feature articles and our online travel guides, we point out here good and bad news which may be of interest for travelers in various parts of the world. This includes also information about some practical changes (e.g. as for entry requirements) and various innovations in the air travel market. News and other useful information are added whenever appropriate. Read this page as often as necessary.

November 2019 - Europe: free travel pass.

As part of the Discover EU program, the European Commission offers each year 18-year-olds from the European Union a free travel pass, usually worth 258 euros, to travel alone or with some friends in the European Union one to thirty days. For 2020, applicants must apply to the European Commission between 7 and 28 November 2019 and answer a quiz. The trip must occur on fixed or flexible dates between April 1, 2020 and October 31, 2020. Recipients will share their travel experiences on social networks or otherwise.

September 2019 - Saudi Arabia: opening to tourists

While Saudi Arabia has issued until now visas only to expatriates, business travelers and Muslim pilgrims to the Hajj (pilgrimage to the holy places of Mecca), it has just announced that it invites from now on foreign travelers to visit the country and it has implemented an electronic tourist visa. This e-visa allows citizens of 49 foreign countries to stay up to 90 days in Saudi Arabia. It s valid for 1 year and allows multiple entries. The official website of this e-visa is available in English only.

September 2019 - Russia: Electronic Visa to Saint Petersburg.

From October 2019, travelers to St. Petersburg (Russia) may obtain an electronic visa free of charge for stays of up to 8 days (7 nights). This e-visa is valid for 30 days from its issue. The application must be made on the official website. If the traveler wants to stay more than 7 nights in St. Petersburg and / or visit other parts of Russia, he must obtain an ordinary visa from the Russian Embassy. An ordinary visa requires, among other things, an invitation letter from Russia and repatriation insurance. Travelers arriving in St. Petersburg on a cruise benefit from a visa waiver under certain conditions and for a stay of 72 hours only.

The Russian electronic visa system was already available to visit the Kaliningrad enclave located between Poland and Lithuania and, only for citizens of some countries, the Vladivostok region.

September 2019 - Laos
: electronic visa.

Laos has just implemented an electronic visa system. It is currently only a tourist visa that allows you to stay in Laos up to 30 days. The visa is valid for 60 days after its issue. You have to enter Laos in Vientiane Airport, Luang Prabang Airport or Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 1 in Vientiane. The official website is currently only available in English. The sites that currently appear at the top of Google's results pages are advertising links to commercial sites whose rates are twice as high as those of the official site.

August 2019 - New Zealand: travel authorization required.

As is already the case in a few other countries, visa-exempt travelers to New Zealand will have to obtain a travel authorization as from October 1, 2019 prior to arrival in the country. This travel authorization, called NZeTA, is to be obtained online on the website of the New Zealand Department of Immigration or with the mobile application (Android or Apple) provided for this purpose. This obligation applies to both travelers ti who are going to stay in New Zealand and those passing through New Zealand. From October 2019, travelers to New Zealand must therefore have either a visa or a travel authorization.

The cost of the travel authorization (NZD $ 47 via internet and NZD $ 44 in the mobile application) includes an "International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy", including in the case of a simple transit.

August 2019 - Russia: relaxation of the visa requirements.

President Putin announced that travelers will be able to obtain a simplified electronic visa to visit St. Petersburg from October 2019 and the whole of Russia (for tourist purposes) from 2021. The list of countries that will benefit from this relaxation will be known in due course.

The difficulty of obtaining a Russian visa has been so far an obstacle to the development of tourism in Russia. The visa requirement has already been eased for visitors to Eastern Russia (including Vladivostok) since 2017 and for visitors to the Kaliningrad enclave since July 2019.

July 2019 - Sri Lanka: temporary free visa.

In order to revive domestic tourism that was hard hit by terrorist attacks in April, Sri Lanka removes for 6 months from 1 August 2019 the costs of issuing a 30 day visa for tourists and business travelers from 48 countries including the United States, the European Union countries, Australia, New Zealand, India and many others.

May 2019 - Madagascar: electronic visa.

Madagascar has just introduced an electronic visa system for tourists who want to stay on the big island up to 90 days. The Malagasy eVisa is a landing permit which the foreign tourist must obtain beforehand on the official website provided for this purpose. It must be presented at the eVisa counters upon arrival in Madagascar where the foreigner must also pay the vis fee, i.e. €35, €40 or €50 depending on whether the stay is less than 30, 60 or 90 days. This visa is a single entry visa. It must be requested no later than 72 hours before travelling to Madagascar.

April 2019 - India: Jet Airways suspends all flights.

In debt, Jet Airways suspends all its activities. While the Indian airline is looking for new investors, its competitors such as IndiGo and SpiceJet are striving to serve some of the routes that have become vacant. Jet Airways was the second largest private airline in India and served about 60 destinations, including about 20 overseas, with 120 aircrafts. Known for the quality of its services, it had an excellent reputation. However, it has not been able to withstand the competition of low-cost airlines and rising fuel prices. Jet Airways' financial health has been weakened for several years by the high-priced purchase of Air Sahara, renamed Jet Lite, which was in deficit.

March 2019 - United States: Prohibition of lithium-ion batteries in checked baggage on flights to the United States.

The US Department of Transportation is going to ban the transport of laptops, tablets and other devices with a lithium-ion battery as cargo on passenger aircraft. These items should always be placed in the hand luggage of travelers.

February 2019 - Italy: Entry tax to Venice.

As from May 1, tourists who plan to visit Venice will have to pay an entry tax of €3. The tax will be included in the fare of the train or boat arriving in Venice. From 2020, it will be increased to €6, and even €8 and €10 depending on the day of the visit. Starting from 2022, a pre-booking via the internet will be required in order to visit Venice. The entry tax is targeting one-day visitors, especially the passengers of cruise ships and the groups of tourists arriving by train. Travelers who are staying in Venice are exempted from the tax because they already pay a tourist tax. Venice welcomes 30 million visitors per year.

January 2019 - Senegal and Gambia: Opening of the bridge between both countries.

The Farafenni Bridge, which spans the Gambia River and connects Gambia to Senegal, opened on 22 January. It allows people to travel between north and south of Senegal with ease. For instance, you can now rally Dakar to Ziguinchor (the main city of Casamance) by road in eight hours. The bridge is the first link of a longer international corridor on the west coast of Africa.

January 2019 - Peru
: Restricted access to Machu Picchu.

From now on, visits to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu may not last more than 4 hours and must start at the fixed time: 6h, 7h, 8h, 9h, 10h, 11am, 12h, 13h and 14h. Access to the site before the booked schedule is not allowed. The entrance ticket must be purchased in advance.

January 2019 - Israel
: Opening of the new Eilat airport.

The new Eilat Airport will be inaugurated on January 22. This superb, ultra-modern airport, called Eilat-Ramon Airport in homage to the family of the first Israeli astronaut, is located 18 km north of Eilat. It will first host domestic flights, then international flights (Transavia, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Lufthansa and others). It will then replace the two airports currently serving the area: J. Hozman Airport in the city center and Ovda Airport situated 60 km north of the city. A temporary exemption from airport taxes could attract new airlines.

January 2019 - Japan: Tax on travelers leaving Japan.

In order to finance among other things tourist infrastructures, Japan has been charging each traveler leaving the country by air or by boat with a tax of 1,000 yen since 7 January 2019. Only children under 2 years and travelers in transit are exempted from this tax. The tax is now included in airfares. In 2018, Japan welcomed 31 million foreign visitors and will host in 2020 the Tokyo Olympic Games.

December 2018 - Cape Verde
: Removal of the visa for European nationals.

As from January 1, 2019, nationals of countries of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland will be exempted from applying for a visa for stays not exceeding 30 days in Cape Verde. On the other hand, an airport security tax will be applied from 1 January 2019 at the rate of 150 CVE escudos (about US$ 1.50) for domestic flights and 3400 CVE escudos (about US$ 35) for international flights. Children under 2 years, passengers in transit and citizens of Cape Verde must not pay this tax. Other travelers who are exempted from the visa must register on the website set up for this purpose and pay the tax before their arrival in Cape Verde. Otherwise, they may exceptionally pay the tax upon arrival in Cape Verde.

December 2018 - Tanzania
: Launch of the e-visa system.

The online portal of the Tanzanian immigration service now allows you to apply online for a tourist, business or transit visa to Tanzania, both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. The site is in English only. It is still possible to apply for a visa from the consular services of the Tanzanian embassy in your own country.

November 2018 - Hong Kong: Opening of the bridge between Hong Kong and mainland China.
Since the end of October, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge has been opened for traffic. Crossing the Pearl River Delta, it consists of a succession of bridges, tunnels and artificial islands with a total length of 55 km. It connects the island of Lantau (home to Hong Kong international airport) on the east side of the bay to Zhuhai and Macao on the west side. 

See also:
2018 travel news

2017 travel news
2016 travel news.
2015 travel news.



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Willgoto points out here good and bad news which may be of interest to travelers in various parts of the world in 2019.