96 percent of travel destinations off-limits to tourists: UNWTO

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A new report out of the UN World Tourism Organization paints a stark portrait of the status of the global travel economy: 96 percent of the planet’s destinations have imposed travel restrictions. According to the global review, 90 destinations (countries, territories or states) have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while 44 percent of destinations are closed to certain groups of tourists, depending on the country of origin. The report offers a further breakdown by region: 100 percent of Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East have introduced travel restrictions since January, while that figure dips in Europe (93 percent) and the Americas (92 percent). Travel restrictions include complete or partial closure of borders; destination-specific travel restrictions barring passengers who have visited or transited through heavily-infected areas; total or partial suspension of flights; and other measures such as quarantine, self-isolation, medical certificates or the suspension of visa issuances.

Interestingly, while the resumption of travel is largely deemed premature today — the closure of the Canada-US border is being extended by another month as of April 21, and France announced that it would keep its borders closed to non-European countries until further notice — in a statement the UNWTO pointed out the need to ease travel restrictions as soon as safely possible. “COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili in a statement. “Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel. With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat. Millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO, therefore, calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so.