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Europe Leads the Way in Easing Covid-19 Travel Restrictions

Photo source: UNWTO

Photo source: UNWTO

Europe continues to lead the way in lifting or easing travel restrictions, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Wednesday.

According to the eighth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, as of November 1, a total of 152 destinations – 70 percent of all global destinations – have eased restrictions on international tourism that were introduced in response to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, up from the 115 recorded on September 1.

At the same time, 59 destinations have kept their borders closed to tourists, a decrease of 34 over the same two-month period.

“The lifting of travel restrictions is essential to drive our wider recovery from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said.

The 152 destinations that have eased travel restrictions are:

  • 49 destinations in Europe (91 percent of all destinations in Europe), an increase of 44 destinations as of September 1. Just one destination (Turkey) has lifted all Covid-19 related restrictions.
  • 40 destinations in the Americas (78 percent of all destinations in the Americas), an increase of 13 destinations compared to September 1. Three destinations (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Haiti) have lifted all Covid-19 related restrictions.
  • 40 destinations in Africa (75 percent of all destinations in Africa), an increase of 14 destinations compared to September 1.
  • 15 destinations in Asia and the Pacific (33 percent of all destinations in Asia and the Pacific), an increase of 2 destinations compared to September 1.
  • 8 destinations in the Middle East (62 percent of all destinations in the Middle East), an increase of 3 destinations compared to September 1.

Photo source: UNWTO

The report found that destinations with higher scores in health and hygiene indicators as well as on the environmental performance index are among those which have eased restrictions faster. “These destinations are increasingly applying differentiated, risk-based approaches to implementing travel restrictions,” the report said.

Moreover, destinations choosing to keep their borders closed tend to be within emerging economies with relatively low scores in health and hygiene indicators and environmental performance index. The report showed that the majority of these destinations are in Asia and the Pacific, with many belonging to the SIDS (Small Island Developing States), LDCs (Least Developed Countries) or LLDCs (Landlocked Developing Countries).

Looking ahead, the report highlighted the important role governments can play in restarting tourism.

“Governments have an important part to play in giving data-led and responsible travel advice and in working together to lift restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so,” Pololikashvili said.

Out of the ten biggest tourism source markets, four (representing 19 percent of all outbound trips in 2018) have issued guidance advising against all non-essential international travel. These four markets are China, Hong Kong SAR, Canada and the Russian Federation.

The other six (representing 30 percent of all outbound trips in 2018), however, have issued more nuanced travel advisories, basing their guidance on evidence-based risk assessments. These six markets are the United States of America, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and The Netherlands.

The full 8th UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report report can be found here.

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