News In BriefTourism

40 percent of destinations have eased travel restrictions

A responsible restart is to international tourism is possible and underway across the world as growing numbers of destinations ease COVID-19 related travel restrictions and adapt to a new reality.

According to the latest analysis from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 40 percent of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to COVID-19.

The United Nations’ specialised agency for tourism has been monitoring global responses to the pandemic from the start of the crisis. This latest outlook, recorded July 19, is up from 22 percent of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by June 15 and the three percent previously observed by May 15. It confirms the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation and responsible restart of international tourism.

At the same time, however, of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, while 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders in place. This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report in addition shows that 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.

This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods. As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance.”

According to the report, destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to be easing restrictions on travel: Of the 87 destinations that have eased restrictions recently, 20 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS), many of which depend on tourism as a central pillar of employment, economic growth and  development. The report also shows that around half (41) of all those destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the leading role of the region for the responsible restart of tourism.

Many destinations still in long-term lockdown

Looking at the 115 destinations that continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority (88) have been completely closed their borders for international tourism for more than 12 weeks.

The cost related to the travel restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19 has historic dimensions. By the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenue, already three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.

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