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Over 50% of Destinations Ease Travel Restrictions: UNWTO

According to the seventh edition of the UNWTO “COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”, most destinations around the world (53%) have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though many remain cautious in view of the development of the pandemic, the report says.

Analysing restrictions up to September 1, the research found that a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have eased travel restrictions, an increase of 28 since July 19. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

“Coordinated leadership and enhanced cooperation between governments means tourism is slowly but steadily restarting in many parts of the world. Starting to ease restrictions on travel opens also the doors for tourism’s social and economic benefits to return. While we must remain vigilant and cautious, we are concerned about those destinations with ongoing full travel restrictions, especially where tourism is a lifeline and economic and social development are under threat,” Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO said.

The report shows that destinations which have eased travel restrictions generally have high or very high levels of health and hygiene infrastructure. They also tend to have comparatively low COVID-19 infection rates.

Within advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations have already eased restrictions. In emerging economies, just 47% of destinations have done so, the report says and adds that 64% of those destinations which have eased have a high or medium dependence on air as a mode of transport for international tourism arrivals.

At the same time, the report shows that many destinations around the world are extremely cautious about easing travel restrictions they introduced in response to the pandemic and some have passed severe measures to keep their citizens safe. 93 destinations (43% of all worldwide destinations) continue to have their borders completely closed to tourism, of which 27 have had their borders completely closed for at least 30 weeks.

Furthermore, more than half of all destinations with borders completely closed to tourism are classified as being among the World’s Most Vulnerable Countries. They include 10 SIDS (Small Island Developing States), one Least Developed Country (LDC) and three Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs). More than half of destinations with full restrictions still in place are also highly dependent on aviation, with at least 70% of their tourist arrivals coming by air, causing significant connectivity impacts for their citizens and economies. 

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