More than 50% of global destinations ease travel restrictions

More than half of the destinations around the world (53%) have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

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

Analyzing restrictions up to September 1, the research found that a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have eased travel restrictions, an increase of 28 since July 19. Two have lifted all restrictions, while 113 maintain certain restrictive measures in place.

The COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions report now includes key data on the health and hygiene infrastructure in place at destinations, while also analyzing rate of notifications of new COVID-19 cases. This allows UNWTO to deter-mine the factors that are influencing destinations’ decisions to ease restrictions.

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% of tourism destinations have already eased restrictions. In contrast, just 47% of destinations with emerging economies have done so.

And 64% of those destinations which have eased have a high or medium dependence on air as a mode of transport for international tourism arrivals.

By regions: 44 destinations in Europe, including 25 out of 26 Schengen Member States, have eased travel restrictions; followed by 27 destinations in the Americas, including 18 Small Island Developing States (SIDS); 26 destinations in Africa; 13 destinations in Asia and the Pacific, including 5 SIDS and 5 destinations in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the report shows that many destinations are extremely cautious about easing travel restrictions and some have passed severe measures in an attempt to keep their citizens safe. Globally, 93 destinations (43% 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.

More than half of all destinations with borders completely closed to tourism are classified as being among the World’s Most Vulnerable Countries, including 10 SIDS.

More than half of destinations with full restrictions still in place are also highly dependent on aviation, with at least 70% of their tourist arrivals coming by air, causing significant connectivity impacts for their citizens and economies.