The cautious resume of the tourism industry is in the process all over the world, while more countries are opening their borders for visitors, easing COVID-19 related travel restrictions. All countries and regions are trying to adapt to the new realities of the world and according to the latest analysis from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 40% of all destinations have reduced the restrictions placed as a response to COVID-19 pandemic.
UNWTO has been following up global responses to COVID-19 from the very beginning of the pandemic crisis. According to the latest approach, recorded on 19 July, now the figure of destinations that had eased travel restrictions has raised up to 22% compared to 15 June records. This indicates that the trend of growth is however slow, but the adaptation is going uninterruptedly, providing responsible and cautious restart of the industry.
Meanwhile, 87 destinations have already eased travel bans, with just 4 having completely lifted all restrictions. The remaining 83 countries have softened the limitations, yet keeping some of the measures such as the partial shutdown of borders still active. According to the latest Travel Restrictions Report by UNWTO, 115 countries continue keeping their borders completely closed to tourism today, which makes 53% of all destinations worldwide.
By following the current trend and working together to adapt to the new realities we are facing today, tourism industry can gain people’s trust and reliance again, taking responsible restart as the key factor.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods. As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.”
According to the UNWTO report, destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to be easing restrictions on travel: Of the 87 destinations that have eased restrictions recently, 20 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS), many of which depend on tourism as a central pillar of employment, economic growth and development. The report also shows that around half (41) of all those destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the leading role of the region for the responsible restart of tourism.
Browsing the 115 destinations that continue to have their borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority (88) have been completely closed their borders for international tourism for more than 12 weeks.
The cost connected with the travel restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic has historic dimensions. This week, UNWTO released the data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. The data shows that by already by the end of May, the pandemic had led to US$320 billion in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 Global Economic Crisis.