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Restrictions on Travel Easing as Europe Leads Cautious Re-start of Tourism

MADRID — Restrictions on travel, introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, are slowly being eased, allowing tourism to re-start in a growing number of destinations.

The latest research by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) shows 22 per cent of all destinations worldwide (48 destinations) have started to ease restrictions, with Europe leading the way. At the same time, however, 65 per cent of all destinations worldwide (141 destinations) continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism.

As the United Nations’ specialized agency for tourism, UNWTO has been monitoring responses to the pandemic since the start of the current crisis. This latest update, the fifth edition of COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism, shows the sector is slowly re-starting, though this re-start is significantly more pronounced in some global regions.

“The re-start of tourism is of vital importance — for livelihoods, for businesses and for national economies,” says UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. “This latest overview of global travel restrictions shows that growing numbers of destinations are beginning to ease the restrictions they introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is being done in a responsible and measured way. However, this crisis is not over. UNWTO will continue to work with our member states around the world to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and to ensure that, when the time is right, tourism can help drive a responsible and sustainable recovery.”

According to UNWTO, as of 15 June, 22 per cent of all destinations (48 destinations) have now eased restrictions on travel, up from just three per cent (seven destinations) on May 18. Destinations that have eased travel restrictions for tourists include:

  • 37 destinations in Europe, including 24 of the 26 Schengen Member States
  • six destinations in the Americas, including five Small Island Developing States
  • three destinations in Asia and the Pacific, including two Small Island Developing States
  • two destinations in Africa

At the same time, the COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions report makes clear that many destinations are maintaining a cautious approach to lifting or easing restrictions on travel. As of June 15, 24 per cent of all destinations worldwide (51 destinations) have had travel restrictions now in place for 19 weeks and 37 per cent (80 destinations) for 15 weeks.

In total, 65 per cent of destinations worldwide (141 destinations) continue to have their borders completely closed. In Africa, the proportion of destinations where borders remain closed to tourists now stands at 85 per cent. In the Americas, 76 per cent of destinations maintain full border closures, as do 67 per cent of destinations in Asia and the Pacific and 92 per cent of destinations in the Middle East. In Europe, these full border closures are reduced now to 26 per cent of all destinations.

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