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UNWTO reports gradual reopening of global borders to tourism

UNWTO reports gradual reopening of global borders to tourism

A majority of destinations around the world have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Though many remain cautious in view of the development of the pandemic, the seventh edition of the Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism from the UNWTO confirms the ongoing trend towards the gradual restart of tourism.

Analysing restrictions up to September 1st, the research carried out by the United Nations agency found that a total of 115 destinations (53 per cent of all destinations worldwide) have eased travel restrictions, an increase of 28, July 19th.

Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.

UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “Coordinated leadership and enhanced cooperation between governments means tourism is slowly but steadily restarting in many parts of the world.


“Starting to ease restrictions on travel opens also the doors for social and economic benefits of tourism to return.

“While 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.”

For the first time, the Covid-19 related travel restrictions report includes key data on the health and hygiene infrastructure in place at destinations, while also analysing rate of notifications of new Covid-19 cases.

This allows UNWTO to determine the factors that are influencing destinations’ decisions to ease restrictions.

Notably, the report shows:

  • Destinations which have eased travel restrictions generally have high or very high levels of health and hygiene infrastructure. They also tend to have comparatively low Covid-19 infection rates.
  • Within advanced economies, 79 per cent of tourism destinations have already eased restrictions. In emerging economies, just 47 per cent of destinations have done so.
  • Some 64 per cent of those destinations which have eased have a high or medium dependence on air as a mode of transport for international tourism arrivals.

At the same time, the report shows that many destinations around the world are extremely cautious about easing travel restrictions they introduced in response to the pandemic and some have passed severe measures in an attempt to keep their citizens safe.

A total of 93 destinations (43 per cent of all worldwide destinations) continue to have their borders completely closed to tourism, of which 27 have had their borders completely closed for at least 30 weeks.