The UNWTO is calling on all governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them once it is safe to do so, following its recent findings that almost all worldwide destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.
The landmark report, highlighting the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19 to global tourism, shows that almost all global destinations have imposed restrictions on travel since January 2020, including complete bans on all travel as they work to contain the pandemic.
The UN body noted that its observations of a continuous trend towards more openness in travel facilitation in recent years has been dramatically interrupted by the pandemic.
As of April 6, 96 per cent of all worldwide destinations have implemented travel restrictions amid pandemic, found the study. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.
UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Covid-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history. Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel.
“With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat: millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO therefore calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The UNWTO global review shows that the global regions are largely consistent in their response to Covid-19. In Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, 100 per cent of destinations have adopted Covid-19-related restrictions since January 2020. In the Americas, 92 per cent of destinations have taken similar steps, while in Europe, the proportion is 93 per cent, as of April 6.
Specifically, the analysis identifies four key types of restrictive measures, namely, complete or partial closure of borders to tourists; destination-specific travel restrictions; total or partial suspension of flights; as well as different measures, including requirements for quarantine or self-isolation, medical certificates, invalidation or suspension of visa issuances, etc.
However, UNWTO also noted that in many instances, destinations have already adjusted their restrictive measures as the situation has evolved.