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Covid-19 Travel Restrictions Keep One in Three Tourism Destinations Completely Closed

Photo source: UNWTO

Photo source: UNWTO

One in three destinations worldwide are now completely closed to international tourism due to travel restrictions, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Monday.

According to the 9th UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus (Covid-19) virus has prompted many governments to reverse efforts to ease restrictions on travel, with total closures to tourists most prevalent in Asia and the Pacific and Europe.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of the regulations in place in 217 destinations worldwide. While previous editions had shown a movement towards easing or lifting restrictions on travel, the latest report shows that the persistent seriousness of the epidemiological situation has caused governments to adopt a more cautious approach.

‘Travel restrictions are just one part of the solution’

“As we work to restart tourism, we must recognise that restrictions are just one part of the solution,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Polilikashvili said.

As of the beginning of February, 32 percent of all destinations worldwide (69 in total) are completely closed for international tourism. Of these, around just over half (38 destinations) have been closed for at least 40 weeks. At the same time, 34 percent of worldwide destinations are now partially closed to international tourists.

Source: UNWTO

According to Polilikashvili, the use of travel restrictions must be based on the latest data and analysis and consistently reviewed “so as to allow for the safe and responsible restart of a sector upon which many millions of businesses and jobs depend”.

Regional variations clear

The ninth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report shows that regional differences with regards to travel restrictions remain.

Of the 69 destinations where borders are completely closed to tourists, 30 are in Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the Americas and three are in the Middle East.

At the same time, the UNWTO research also indicates a trend towards adopting a more nuanced, evidence and risk-based approach to implementing travel restrictions.

Growing numbers of destinations worldwide now require international tourists to present a negative PCR or antigen test upon arrival and also provide contact details for tracing purposes.

Indeed, 32 percent of all worldwide destinations now have the presentation of such tests as their main requirement for international arrivals often combined with quarantine, while the same amount have made tests a secondary or tertiary measure.

Top tourism markets remain cautious

The UNWTO’s travel restrictions report also notes how different governments are issuing advice to their own citizens. Analysis of the top ten tourism source markets currently advising against non-essential travel abroad found they generated 44 percent of all international arrivals in 2018.

The UNWTO notes that advice issued by governments will play a crucial role in the restart and recovery of tourism in the weeks and months ahead.

The full 9th UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report report can be found here.

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