The FINANCIAL — The number of destinations closed to international tourism has continued to fall. According to the eighth edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, 70% of all global destinations have eased restrictions on travel introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison, just one in four destinations continue to keep their borders completely closed to international tourists.
Launched by the World Tourism Organization at the start of the pandemic, the Travel Restrictions Report keeps track of measures being taken in 217 destinations worldwide, helping to support the mitigation and recovery efforts of the tourism sector. For this latest edition, the methodology has been updated to offer insights into the tourism flows of destinations, as well as to explore the link between health and hygiene infrastructure, environmental performance and any potential connection to travel restrictions.
The lifting of travel restrictions is essential to drive our wider recovery from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic
As of 1 November 2020
• 152 destinations (70% of all destinations worldwide) have eased COVID-19 related travel restrictions for international tourism. This is an increase of 37 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
• 59 destinations (27% of all destinations worldwide) keep their borders completely closed for international tourism. This is a decrease of 34 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
• The following categories of COVID-19 related travel restrictions are being applied across destinations worldwide (total destinations are 217):
o Complete or partial closure of borders:
118 destinations (54% of all destinations worldwide) have completely or partially closed their borders (decrease from 161 destinations on 1 September 2020).
– Out of these, 59 destinations have completely closed their borders for international tourism, and
– 59 destinations have partially closed their borders.
Steadily opening back up
The Report shows that, as of 1 November, a total of 152 destinations have eased restrictions on international tourism, up from the 115 recorded on 1 September. At the same time, 59 destinations have kept their borders closed to tourists, a decrease of 34 over the same two-month period.
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.”
Who eased restrictions faster?
Looking further into current COVID-19-related travel restrictions, the report sheds new light on the factors connecting those destinations which have eased restrictions and those where borders remain closed. The study found that destinations with higher scores in health and hygiene indicators as well as on the environmental performance index are among those which have eased restrictions faster. Moreover, these destinations are increasingly applying differentiated, risk-based approaches to implementing travel restrictions.
In comparison, destinations choosing to keep their borders closed tend to be within emerging economies with relatively low scores in health and hygiene indicators and environmental performance index. The majority of these destinations are in Asia and the Pacific, with many belonging to the SIDS (Small Island Developing States), LDCs (Least Developed Countries) or LLDCs (Landlocked Developing Countries).
As in previous editions, the new UNWTO Travel Restrictions report also breaks the destination analysis down by regions. Europe continues to lead the way in lifting or easing travel restrictions followed by the Americas, Africa and then the Middle East. Meanwhile, Asia and the Pacific continues to be the region with the fewest travel restrictions eased and more complete border closures in place for international tourism.
Looking ahead, the report highlights the important role governments can play in restarting tourism. Out of the ten biggest tourism source markets, four (representing 19% of all outbound trips in 2018) have issued guidance advising against all non-essential international travel. The other six (representing 30% of all outbound trips in 2018), however, have issued more nuanced travel advisories, basing their guidance on evidence-based risk assessments.
Negative COVID-19 PCR test:
126 destinations (58% of all destinations worldwide) are requesting Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests upon arrival from international tourists. In 67 destinations (31% of all destinations worldwide) a negative PCR test is the main measure, in the remaining 59 destinations, PCR tests are used as an additional measure.
o Destination-specific travel restriction:
12 destinations (5%) are not allowing passengers from specific countries of origin to enter the destination.
10 destinations (5%) request quarantine and/or self-isolation upon arrival in a destination.
o Different measures:
6 destinations (3%) are applying different measures that include visa related measures and measures directed to specific nationalities.
4 destinations have lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions.
• From a regional point of view, the 152 destinations that have eased travel restrictions are:
o 49 destinations in Europe (91% of all destinations in Europe), an increase of 44 destinations as of 1 September 2020. 1 destination has lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions.1
o 40 destinations in the Americas (78% of all destinations in the Americas), an increase of 13 destinations compared to 1 September 2020. 3 destinations have lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions.2
o 40 destinations in Africa (75% of all destinations in Africa), an increase of 14 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
o 15 destinations in Asia and the Pacific (33% of all destinations in Asia and the Pacific), an increase of 2 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
o 8 destinations in the Middle East (62% of all destinations in the Middle East), an increase of 3 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
From a regional point of view, the destinations that apply complete closure of borders are:
o 27 destinations in Asia and the Pacific (59% of all destinations in Asia), a decrease of 1 destination compared to 1 September 2020.
o 13 destinations in Africa (25% of all destinations in Africa), a decrease of 14 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
o 10 destinations in the Americas (20% of all destinations in the Americas), a decrease of 11 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
o 5 destinations in the Middle East (38% of all destinations in Middle East), a decrease of 3 destinations compared to 1 September 2020.
• 35 SIDS (65% of all SIDS) have eased restrictions, mostly in the Americas (23 destinations) and 17 SIDS (31% of all SIDS) maintain complete border closure, the majority of those in Asia and the Pacific (12 destinations).
• 44 destinations (20% of destinations worldwide) have had their border completely closed for 27 weeks3: among them 14 SIDS, 9 LDCs and 6 LLDCs.