Just over half of destinations worldwide (53%) have now started easing travel restrictions introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with strict local containment measures, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation claims in its latest update.
While many destinations remain cautious including Australia, the UNWTO in its seventh edition of the “Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism” identifies an ongoing trend towards the gradual restart of tourism.
Analysing restrictions up to 1 September, the research carried out by UNWTO found that a total of 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) have eased travel restrictions, an increase of 28 since 19 July. Of these, two have lifted all restrictions, while the remaining 113 continue to have certain restrictive measures in place.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “While we must remain vigilant and cautious, we are concerned about those destinations with ongoing full travel restrictions, especially where tourism is a lifeline and economic and social development are under threat.”
For the first time, the Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions report includes key data on the health and hygiene infrastructure in place at destinations. There is also analysing rate for the notifications of new Coyid-19 cases. This allows UNWTO to determine the factors that are influencing destinations’ decisions to ease restrictions.
Destinations that have eased travel restrictions 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 emerging economies, just 47% of destinations have done so.
64% of those destinations which have eased have a high or medium dependence on airlines to deliver international tourism arrivals.
At the same time, the report shows that many destinations around the world are extremely cautious about easing travel restrictions they introduced in response to the pandemic, and some have passed severe measures in an attempt to keep their citizens safe. Ninety-three 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, Australia is on this list.
Furthermore, more than half of all destinations with borders completely closed to tourism are classified as being among the World’s Most Vulnerable Countries. They include 10 SIDS (Small Island Developing States), one Least Developed Country (LDC), and three Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs). 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.
UNWTO continues to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on tourism. It notes that the situation is fluid and that, even as tourism restarts in some regions, in others, restrictions may be tightened and borders re-closed.
Similarly, UNWTO has observed a rise in travel advisories being issued by governments for their own citizens, alongside more and varied restrictions and other measures directed at passengers arriving from specific countries or regions.
We all appreciate the efforts our government is making to contain the pandemic and so far they have done an excellent job, however, I think its time that they realise that we cant have our domestic and international borders closed forever. We need to learn how to live with the virus and treat hotspots at the local level and not at state or national level. If our states and government don’t start relaxing the borders restrictions soon, some parts of our economy like the travel and tourism industry can enter a depression state for which coming out would be very grim.