70% of destinations lift travel restrictions: UNWTO report

Highlighting the role governments must play in restarting tourism, the UNWTO report throws light on the tourism sector's current travel restrictions trend.

The eighth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report states that 70 per cent of destinations have lifted travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, one in four destinations is still enforcing travel restrictions on incoming international tourists.

Commenting on the report, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said, “The lifting of travel restrictions is essential to drive our wider recovery from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. Governments have an important part to play in giving data-led and responsible travel advice and in working together to lift restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”

The report, recorded till 1 November, states that 152 destinations have lifted international tourism restrictions, indicating an increment from 115 stated on 1 September. In contrast, 59 destinations have closed their borders to tourists, leading to a decrease of 34 over the two months.

Revealing factors related to restrictions

The report further shows the factors behind easing restrictions in some destinations while maintaining the same in others.

According to the study, destinations with higher scores in health and hygiene indicators and the environmental performance index have lifted the restrictions faster. These destinations depend on applying differentiated, risk-based methods to the execution of travel restrictions.

Whereas the destinations having relatively low scores in health and hygiene indicators and environmental performance index are the ones that are keeping travel restrictions intact. Most of these destinations fall in Asia and the Pacific and belong to SIDS (Small Island Developing States), LDCs (Least Developed Countries), or LLDCs (Landlocked Developing Countries).

Contrasting regional analysis

Like the previous editions, the recent UNWTO Travel Restrictions report reveals that Europe leads to lifting or easing travel restrictions, followed by the Americas, Africa, and the Middle East. At the same time, Asia and the Pacific have eased the least number of travel restrictions and score more on imposing the greatest number of complete border closures for international tourism.

In addition to that, the report underlines the role governments can play to restart tourism.

Four out of the ten biggest tourism source markets (representing 19 per cent of all outbound trips in 2018) have circulated advisories against all non-essential international travel. The remaining six (representing 30 per cent of all outbound trips in 2018) have circulated more detailed advisories based on evidence-based risk assessments.

The latest report offers insights into destinations' tourism flows and navigates the relationship between health and hygiene infrastructure, environmental performance, and travel restrictions.

The Travel Restrictions Report, started by the World Tourism Organisation at the beginning of the pandemic, records the measures enforced by 217 destinations worldwide to support the migration and recovery efforts of the tourism sector.


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