As the United Nation’s specialised agency for tourism, UNWTO has been regularly monitoring travel facilitation and observing a continuous trend towards more openness. However, Covid-19 changed it all. Studying the scale of disruption caused by COVID-19 to global tourism, the report said that almost all global destinations have imposed restrictions on travel since January 2020 as part of efforts to mitigate the pandemic. Around 90 destinations have completely or partially closed their borders to tourists, while a further 44 are closed to certain tourists depending on country of origin.
The UNWTO global review found that the global regions are largely consistent in their response to COVID-19. In Africa, Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East, 100 percent of destinations have adopted COVID-19-related restrictions since January 2020. In the Americas, 92 percent of destinations have taken similar steps; while in Europe, it is 93 percent as of April 6.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: ‘COVID-19 has impacted travel and tourism like no other event before in history. Governments have put public health first and introduced full or partial restrictions on travel. With tourism suspended, the benefits the sector brings are under threat: millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in the fields of equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. UNWTO therefore calls on governments to continuously review travel restrictions and ease or lift them as soon as it is safe to do so.’
The research identifies four key types of restrictive measures, such as: complete or partial closure of borders to tourists; destination-specific travel restrictions, the total or partial suspension of flights; and other measures, including requirements for quarantine or self-isolation, medical certificates, invalidation or suspension of visa issuances etc.
According to the report, destinations have already started adjusting their restrictive measures as the situation has evolved. ‘UNWTO will continue to regularly track and analyse the evolution of travel restrictions, in an effort to effectively support the responsible but also timely recovery of the tourism sector,’ it said.