On Monday afternoon a group of 189 Dutch tourists travelled from the Netherlands to the Greek island of Rhodes for an eight day “test holiday”. The trip to an all-inclusive holiday at the Mitsis Grand Beach Hotel was organised by travel organisation Sunweb and low-cost airline Transavia.
1. A test trip
Around 25,000 people from the Netherlands applied for the trip, with the chosen group being assembled with the help of a notary public to ensure a diverse composition, representing all age groups. Each member of the group had both a PCR test and a rapid test before boarding the plane, will not be allowed to leave the resort whilst there, and will have to quarantine upon their return to the Netherlands. According to Sunweb’s director, Mattijs ten Brink, the holiday is hoped to provide “a wealth of information” for the travel industry regarding how to safely organise holidays while Covid-19 is still an issue.
Throughout the holiday, the guests will complete surveys, whilst two scientists will analyse their behaviour during the stay, although they will not intervene. Marcel de Nooijer, managing director of Transavia, said “It should be a natural situation to really build up knowledge.” Both De Nooijer and Ten Brink say the “test holiday” should provide information on how to enjoy a corona-safe holiday next summer. “We want to know how we can improve our communication and actions to make the trip as safe and pleasant as possible for the tourists,” said De Nooijer.
2. Another test in Belgium
Sunweb is also interested in organising a similar project in neighbouring Belgium, stating in a press release that, “The developments surrounding the vaccines and the great desire of consumers to be able to go on holiday again give us confidence that it will be possible to travel again this summer”. “How we can make this as safe as possible for all parties is the objective of this holiday test,” they said. “Setting up a similar experiment in Belgium will only provide more insights, and we would be happy to be the initiator of that.”
Non-essential travel in and out of the country is currently not allowed in Belgium, although Frank Vandenbroucke, Federal Health Minister, said on Sunday that he expects the ban to be lifted from 19 April as planned. Should this happen, the ban will be replaced by strict controls on compliance with test requirements.