MADRID, 11 March 2021: One in three destinations worldwide are now completely closed to international tourism, according to the latest data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
It warned that the emergence of new variants of the Covid-19
virus had prompted many governments to reverse efforts to ease restrictions on
travel, with total closures to tourists most prevalent in Asia and the Pacific
The UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report provides a
comprehensive overview of the regulations in place in 217 destinations
worldwide. While previous editions had shown a movement towards easing or
lifting restrictions on travel, the latest report shows that the persistent
seriousness of the epidemiological situation has caused governments to adopt a
more cautious approach.
As of the beginning of February, 32% of all destinations
worldwide (69 in total) remained closed entirely to international tourism. Of
these, around just over half (38 destinations) closed for at least 40 weeks. At
the same time, 34% of worldwide destinations are now partially closed to
“Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognise
that restrictions are just one part of the solution,” said UNWTO
Secretary-General Zurab Polilikashvili. “Travel restrictions have been
widely used to restrict the spread of the virus. As we work to restart tourism,
we must recognise that restrictions are just one part of the solution. Their
use must be based on the latest data and analysis and consistently reviewed so
as to allow for the safe and responsible restart of a sector upon which many
millions of businesses and jobs depend.”
Regional variations clear
The ninth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report
shows that regional differences with regards to travel restrictions remain. Of
the 69 destinations where borders are completely closed to tourists, 30 are in
Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the
Americas, and three are in the Middle East.
At the same time, the UNWTO research also indicates a trend
towards adopting a more nuanced, evidence and risk-based approach to
implementing travel restrictions. More destinations worldwide now require
international tourists to present a negative PCR or antigen test upon arrival
and also provide contact details for tracing purposes.
UNWTO said 32% of all worldwide destinations make such tests
the main requirement for international arrivals often combined with quarantine,
while 32% made tests a secondary or tertiary measure.
Top tourism markets remain cautious.
As UNWTO leads the restart of tourism, the Travel
Restrictions Report also notes how different governments are issuing advice to
their own citizens. Analysis of the top ten tourism source markets currently advising
against non-essential travel abroad found they generated 44% of all
international arrivals in 2018. UNWTO notes that advice issued by governments
will play a crucial role in the restart and recovery of tourism in the weeks
and months ahead.