The Azores has been awarded a "safest destination" stamp by the European Best Destination Organisation after declaring itself "Covid-free".
The Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic is preparing to begin welcoming visitors, subject to strict new infection and border controls.
Overall, the islands recorded 146 positive Covid-19 cases, resulting in 16 deaths, and currently has no active cases of the virus.
Luis Capdeville Botelho, executive director of the Azores Tourism Board, said he was immensely proud of the swift action taken by the Portuguese government, the country’s tourism sector and local businesses in the Azores to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
"This pandemic... has taught us nothing can be taken for granted, and that it took us to pause as a human race in order to come through the dark times," he said.
Mandatory safety measures in the Azores include wearing face masks on all transport, public or private; physical distancing; and good respiratory etiquette.
Masks are recommended in all public places, while all public places, transport, restaurants and hotels must ensure compliance with the rules.
Visitors have two choices on arrival; submit paper proof of a negative PCR (antigen) test for coronavirus, issued within 72 hours of their flight departure. This must include the passenger’s ID, the laboratory where the test was analysed, the date of the test, and the negative result.
Alternatively, they can opt for screening on arrival, whereby health professionals will take samples on arrival. Visitors will then proceed to a safe isolation space. On the islands of Sao Miguel and Terceira, the maximum waiting time is 12 hours. On Santa Maria, Faial and Pico, it is 48 hours.
Anyone staying for seven or more nights will have to take a second test, typically completed via a drive-in regime. They must contact the local health authority within six days of arrival to seek a new test.
Any visitors who refuse to comply could be placed in mandatory quarantine until a test can be carried out, or for a 14-day period if they continue to refuse a test. The cost of accommodation will be charged to the visitor.
Airports will deploy UV and hospital-grade disinfectants to guard against transmission, scale up cleaning regimes, increase hand sanitiser provision, install new signage warning of key health and safety requirements, and deploy thermal cameras to monitor temperatures.
Botelho added: "The Azores is the perfect destination for travellers who have a preference for nature experiences such as hiking, whale watching, local cuisine and historical traditions.
"The measures are designed to keep every single person who visits the island safe and well, with minimal impact to their experience.
"We thank everybody for their patience and cooperation to sit back, pause and reflect on the travels they could experience after the height of the pandemic – for that time is now, and we cannot wait to see you here once more.”