World Tourism Organisation reports on destinations re-opening to tourists

53% of the world’s tourist destinations have now started easing travel restrictions government’s imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic – the claim from the UN World Tourism Organisation in its latest update on the state of the world’s re-openings in the Covid-era. The UNWTO acknowledges that many destinations “remain cautious” and some are even re-closing borders and tightening up restrictions again.

It’s the 7th edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism”and identifies an ongoing global trend to gradually restart the world’s tourism machine. The report analyses restrictions by governments up to September 1. The research covers a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have now eased their travel restrictions – that’s an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says 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.”

The Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions report also includes information collected on the health and hygiene infrastructure set up at the various destinations. Matching that with local reports of new Covid-19 cases, this allows UNWTO to determine the issues that are influencing local decisions to ease restrictions in the destinations.

One common denominator was that destinations which have started easing travel restrictions had high or very high levels of health care infrastructure and active programs in place for good community hygiene – wearing masks, access to hand sanitises, etc. They were also more likely to have comparatively low Covid infection rates.

• Another stand-out stat was that in advanced economies, 79% of tourism destinations had already started easing restrictions. In emerging economies, less than half, just 47% of destinations, have started the process.

• 64% of those destinations which have eased have a “high or medium dependence” on airlines to deliver international tourists to their location. Island destinations are particularly at risk at this time as the air lift is critical to their tourist success.

• 43% of all worldwide destinations continue to have their borders completely closed to all tourism, of which 27 destinations have had their borders “completely closed” for at least 7 months.

• Half of all destinations in the survey, with borders completely closed to tourism, are listed as being among the “World’s Most Vulnerable Countries”. They include 10 Small Island Developing States, one Least Developed Country and three Land-Locked Developing Countries.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili says…

“Coordinated leadership and enhanced cooperation between governments mean tourism is slowly but steadily restarting in many parts of the world.”

“Starting to ease restrictions on travel opens doors for tourism’s social and economic benefits to return.”

UNWTO notes that the re-opening situation is changing daily and that, even as tourism reboots in some regions, other destinations are re-closing borders or re-tightening restrictions.

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