UNWTO reports gradual reopening of more than 50% global tourism destinations

Published on : Monday, September 14, 2020

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation recently confirmed in its seventh edition of the UNWTO “COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism” that an ongoing trend towards the gradual restart of tourism can finally be noticed in several global destinations although many continues to remain cautious in view of the development of the pandemic. UNWTO reported that a majority of 53% destinations around the world have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The United Nations specialized agency for tourism carried out a research and analysed restrictions up to September 1 and reported that a  115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have eased travel restrictions, an increase of 28 since July 19. Among the destinations, two have lifted all restrictions while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place. The report also includes key data on the health and hygiene infrastructure in place at destinations, alongside analysis of the rate of notifications of new COVID-19 cases.


With the help of the analysed UNWTO has determined factors that are influencing destinations’ decisions to ease restrictions. According to the report, destinations that eased travel restrictions generally have high or very high levels of health and hygiene infrastructure as well as a comparatively low COVID-19 infection rate. Moreover, it has been found that 79% of tourism destinations with advanced economies have already eased restrictions while only 47% of destinations have eased travel restrictions in emerging economies. 64% of those destinations which have eased have a high or medium dependence on air as a mode of transport for international tourism arrivals.


Meanwhile, the report also 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 in an attempt 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. The report also states that more than half of all destinations with borders completely closed to tourism are being classified as 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. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General, UNWTO said in his statement that coordinated leadership and enhanced cooperation between governments means tourism is slowly but steadily restarting in many parts of the world. He that the starting of ease of travel restrictions is also opening the doors for tourism’s social and economic benefits to return. He also shared that while remaining vigilant and cautious is highly important, authorities are also concerned about destinations with ongoing full travel restrictions, and especially where tourism is a lifeline and economic and social development are under threat.

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