Global Borders Slowly Reopening UNWTO Research Reveals

The responsible restart of tourism is underway around the world as growing numbers of destinations ease Covid-19 related travel restrictions and adapt to the new reality. According to the latest analysis from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), some 40% of all destinations worldwide have now eased the restrictions they placed on international tourism in response to the outbreak.

The agency has been monitoring global responses to the pandemic from the start of the crisis. This 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. The figures confirm the trend of a slow but continuous adaptation 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.

This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, in addition, shows that 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed for tourism.

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General, said: “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 co-operation 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.”

Looking at the 115 destinations that continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority (88) have completely closed their borders for international tourism for more than 12 weeks.

The cost related to the travel restrictions introduced in response to Covid-19 has historic dimensions.

The UNWTO also released data on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that by the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 global economic crisis.

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