Dhaka: The world is slowly opening up again, new research from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) indicates, with destinations cautiously easing travel restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19.
As the United Nations specialised agency releases its Global Guidelines for Reopening Tourism, signaling a transition into gearing up for stronger and better recovery, 3 per cent of all global destinations have now taken steps to ease travel restrictions.
UNWTO has been monitoring the global response to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The fourth edition of its COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism report, released today, again looked at the measures of 217 destinations worldwide as of May 18, 2020.
The research shows that seven destinations have eased travel restrictions for international tourism purposes. At the same time, several more destinations are engaged in significant discussions about the re-opening of borders.
The report notes that 100 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have some form of COVID-19-related travel restrictions in place. Furthermore, as of May 18, 75 per cent continued to have their borders completely closed for international tourism.
In 37 per cent of all cases, travel restrictions have been in place for 10 weeks, while 24 per cent of global destinations have had restrictions in place for 14 weeks or more.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO, said, “The timely and responsible easing of travel restrictions will help ensure the many social and economic benefits that tourism guarantees will return in a sustainable way. This will contribute to the livelihoods of many millions of people around the world. The sector is a driver of sustainable development and a pillar of economies. UNWTO stresses the need for vigilance, responsibility and international cooperation as the world slowly opens up again.”
Pololikashvili also welcomed the growing confidence in the global tourism sector, noting it stands ready to return to growth. While tourism has been the hardest hit of all the world’s major economic sectors, UNWTO has led a joint response and last week released its Global Guidelines to Reopen Tourism. These guidelines outline the steps governments and the private sector can take to accelerate recovery in the months ahead.
Tourism-dependent states locked down
Looking into global travel restrictions more closely, the UNWTO research shows that, the more important tourism is to the economies of individual destinations, the more likely they are to have introduced complete border closures. In the case of SIDS destinations (Small Island Developing States), 85 per cent continue to have their borders completely closed for tourism purposes.
All UNWTO regions have more than 65 per cent of their destinations completely closed to tourism: Africa (74 per cent), Americas (86 per cent), Asia and the Pacific (67 per cent), Europe (74 per cent) and the Middle East (69 per cent).
The COVID-19-Related Travel Restrictions report also breaks down the level and type of travel restrictions in place, including prevalence of flight suspensions and measures including compulsory self-isolation and quarantine of tourist arrivals. This report and past editions can be accessed through the UNWTO website.