A total of 40% of destinations worldwide have now eased restrictions on international tourism put in place in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
In its latest analysis, the UNWTO said that a responsible restart in tourism activities is currently underway around the world. This comes as growing numbers of destinations ease COVID-19-related travel restrictions, and adapt to a new reality.
The UN’s specialised agency for tourism has been monitoring global responses to the pandemic from the beginning of the crisis. The latest outlook, recorded on 19 July, is up from 22% of destinations that had eased restrictions on travel by 15 June, and the 3% previously observed by 15 May. It confirms the trend of a slow, but continuous, adaptation to and responsible restart of international tourism.
“At the same time, 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,” the UNWTO noted.
The latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report also shows that 115 destinations, or 53% of all destinations worldwide, continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.
“The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health, while also supporting businesses and livelihoods,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “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.”
According to the organisation’s report, destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to ease travel restrictions. Of the 87 destinations that have done so, 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 41 of destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the region’s leading role in restarting tourism.
“Looking at the 115 destinations that continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority, or 88, destinations, have completely closed their borders to international tourism for more than 12 weeks,” the UNWTO noted.
This week, the organisation released data on the pandemic’s impact on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that, by the end of May, the global health crisis had led to $320bn in lost revenues, a figure three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.