UNWTO report reveals worldwide easing of travel restrictions

SKÅL Bangkok President warns of a deepening Thailand tourism crisis
December 7, 2020
Pattaya nightlife and Walking Street lively during festive holidays amid cool breeze
December 7, 2020

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has released a report revealing that 70 per cent of destinations around the world have eased travel restrictions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings were discussed in the eighth edition of the UNWTO’s Travel Restrictions Report, a document launched at the start of the pandemic to keep track of measures taken in 217 global destinations worldwide. The findings aim to “support the mitigation and recovery efforts of the tourism sector”.

The report shows that 152 destinations have eased restrictions on international tourism from November 1, an increase from the 115 recorded on September 1. Meanwhile, one in four destinations continue to keep their borders closed to international tourists – this has decreased from 93 to 59 over the two-month period.

Europe continues to lead the way in the lifting of restrictions, followed by the Americas, Africa and the Middle East. Asia and the Pacific, however, have more complete border closures in place in response to the ongoing pandemic.

The study also examined the reasons behind the lifting or strengthening of restrictions, stating that those destinations with higher scores in health and hygiene indicators as well as on the environmental performance index have eased restrictions faster.

Conversely, countries and territories that have kept their borders closed – the majority of which are located in Asia and the Pacific – tend to be within emerging economies with relatively low scores in these two factors.

The report also looks to the future, highlighting that governments can play a pivotal role in the recovery of tourism. At the moment, six of the ten biggest tourism source markets have issued travel regulations according to evidence-based risk assessments.

Commenting on the findings, 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.”