CNN) — Could brighter days be ahead? Travel and tourism are expected to return to almost pre-pandemic levels this year, and a top health official says Europe could be about to enter “a long period of tranquility.”
Here’s the latest news from CNN Travel this week.

Tourism is bouncing back

Omicron is still raging, but travel is pushing forward. Travel and tourism could generate $8.6 trillion globally this year, according to new research by the World Travel & Tourism Council. That’s just 6.4% below pre-pandemic levels.
More countries have announced reopening plans. Denmark, whose population has a high 81% vaccination rate, has become the first EU country to lift all Covid-19 restrictions, while Morocco has announced plans to reopen to tourists on February 7. (You can listen to Anthony Bourdain’s take on Tangier on the “Parts Unknown” podcast.) Even cautious New Zealand is gradually opening its doors.
Does this mean a return to normal? Europe, for one, could be in store for “a long period of tranquility,” Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, said Thursday.
Let’s hope the rest of the world is in for some tranquility, too.

World’s deepest high-speed railway station

Some 335 feet (102 meters) below the Great Wall, China has built another engineering marvel. The three-story Badaling Great Wall Station serves the historic Beijing-Zhangjiakou intercity railway and is built below Badaling, the most popular section of the centuries-old wall.
Constructing a complex railway station, with a 7.5-mile-long (12 kilometer) ​tunnel system, under a UNESCO World Heritage site was no easy task. Here’s how they did it.
This groundbreaking station is just another achievement reached for China’s rapidly developing high-speed rail network — the world’s largest by some distance. Take a look at its 21st-century evolution.
There was some tricky maneuvering in the skies this week.
Footage emerged of a pilot pulling off a tough landing in strong winds at London’s Heathrow Airport — appearing to nearly topple over in the process.
And on a United Airlines flight from Ghana to Washington Dulles, passengers and a crew member put their medical training to good use as a woman gave birth midflight.

Mexico deemed ‘very high’ risk for travel

Another week, another bunch of new countries added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highest-risk “Level 4” travel category.
Most of the planet is now colored red — or Level 4 — including the United States.
Tourism favorite Mexico has moved up there, along with 11 other destinations including Brazil, Chile, Singapore and the Philippines. There were no places that slid down a level this week.
With almost 130 destinations now officially ranked “avoid travel” for US citizens, Americans might want to consider traveling domestically to the Caribbean archipelago of Puerto Rico. The destination boasts one of the highest US vaccination rates, and travel requirements have just been loosened.

Europe’s prettiest ski resorts

Travel not only allows us to connect with the world around us but also with people we might otherwise never have met.
CNN Travel has been sharing our readers’ real-life stories through our Chance Encountersseries. There’s the 50-year pen-pal friendship that began with a message in a bottle, the couple who fell in love after he saved her from drowning and the Pan Am flight attendant who married a CIA officer she met on an airplane.
We want to hear about your memorable connections and remarkable travel experiences. Get in touch with us here.

Get set, travel

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