News of vaccine efficacy have not only sent travel stocks surging, they have also led enterprising travel agencies to design vaccine vacations that combine a holiday trip abroad with an opportunity to get a Covid vaccine shot.
In Mumbai, Gem Tours & Travel is dangling a Rs 174,999 (US$3,164) coronavirus vaccine tourism package, which is inclusive of air fare and four-nights hotel stay to New York for a shot of the prized vaccine, once Pfizer hits America's shores.
"Be among the first to get Corona Vaccine: As soon as Pfizer Vaccine is officially published to sell in America (tentative date 11 December), v r ready to get it done for select few VVIP clients..." the agency wrote in widely circulated WhatsApp messages in India.
Kolkata-based Zenith Holidays has also designed vaccine tourism packages for the US and Russia, which will be launched once the agency received the necessary approval from the foreign authorities, reported the Times of India (TOI). Meanwhile, the agency is collecting data of prospective customers to contact once the green light is given for such packages.
“The tourism industry is talking about vaccine vacation. We aren't sure of the modalities yet, but this will happen since it will take much longer to complete the vaccination in India. Dubai (UAE) and South Africa could be possible options," Manav Soni, chairman (east) of Travel Agents Association of India, was reported as saying by the TOI report.
Already, the UK has become the first country worldwide to authorise the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and Portugal on 3 December has announced the same. America's former presidents, Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton as well as President-elect Joe Biden have also volunteered to be inoculated.