French Polynesia Closing Its Borders to All Tourists


French Polynesia, one of the first countries to reopen to American tourists in 2020, has closed its borders as new coronavirus variants surge around the world.

The island nation, which boasts overwater bungalows and brilliant aqua water over 118 Islands, including Tahiti and Bora Bora, will cut off travel from all countries on Feb. 3, according to Tahiti Tourisme.

"Faced with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases around the world and in order to preserve French Polynesia which has for its part, shown significant improvement for several consecutive weeks, the authorities have decided to temporarily suspend travel to The Islands of Tahiti including for tourists from all origins until further notice," the tourism board wrote in its notice.

Any tourists who are currently traveling in the country and whose return is scheduled for this week, will be allowed to continue their trip.

In total, French Polynesia has reported more than 18,000 confirmed cases of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. The country has gone three days without a new case and has seen case numbers fall from their spike around October and November.

French Polynesia first reopened to tourists in July, requiring proof of a negative test as well as a travel insurance policy. While tourism is now being cut off, the islands will still allow essential visits, including for health, work, or family purposes. Those who do come will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test from within 72 hours of their departure and complete a self-test four days after arriving in the country.

The islands have also established a nightly curfew through at least Feb. 15, mandated mask wearing, and closed bars and nightclubs, according to the government.

While some countries have decided to close their borders, others are opening up or lifting quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers, including the Seychelles, Romania, and Iceland.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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