40% of destinations have now eased travel restrictions: UNWTO

Asian female tourist wearing mask using mobile phone searching airline flight status and sit social distancing chair in airport during coronavirus or covid-19 virus outbreak a new normal concept

A growing number of destinations around the world have restarted their tourism industries while adapting to the new normal, with the latest analysis from UNWTO showing that 40 per cent of all destinations worldwide have now eased Covid-19 restrictions on international travel.

This latest outlook, recorded on July 19, is up from 22 per cent of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by June 15 and the three per cent previously observed by May 15. It confirms the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation and responsible restart of international tourism.

While 40 per cent of destinations have eased travel restrictions, 83 per cent of them still have partial anti-coronavirus measures in place, while many destinations remain in long-term lockdown

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.

Destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to be easing restrictions on travel, according to the UNWTO report. 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 per cent) of all those destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the leading role of the region for the responsible restart of tourism.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement: “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. 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.”

In addition, this latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report shows that 115 destinations – 53 per cent of all destinations worldwide – continue to keep their borders completely closed to international tourism.

Of those 115 destinations, the majority (8 per cent) have kept their borders completely closed to international tourism for more than 12 weeks, found the report.

The cost related to the travel restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19 has historic dimensions. Last week, UNWTO released the data on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that already by end-May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenues – three times the cost of the 2009 global economic crisis

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