According to the UNWTO, 46 destinations (21 per cent of all destinations worldwide) have closed their borders completely to tourists. Jenny Southan reports
According to the latest UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report (published on November 26), on in five destinations worldwide continue to have their borders completely closed as new surges of Covid-19 impact the restart of international tourism.
The latest research shows that still 98 per cent of all destinations have some kind of travel restrictions in place. Since the report came out, countries such as Israel and Japan have banned foreigners from entering due to fear of the new Omicron variant.
According to the UNWTO, 26 destinations such as China have had their borders completely closed since at least the end of April 2020.
A further 55 (25 per cent of all global destinations) continue to have their borders partially closed to international tourism, and 112 destinations (52 per cent of all destinations) require international tourists to present a PCR or antigen test upon arrival. (This figure will have now increased due to Omicron paranoia.)
The UNWTO says the “trend towards destinations taking evidence-based approaches to restrictions reflects the evolving nature of the pandemic will also help restore confidence in travel while helping keep both tourists and tourism workers safe”.
The report also shows how destinations are opening up to vaccinated international tourists – 85 destinations (39 per cent of all destinations worldwide) have eased restrictions for fully vaccinated international tourists, while 20 destinations (9 per cent of all destinations worldwide) have made a full Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for entering a destination for tourism purposes.
However, just four destinations have so far lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions completely (Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Mexico).
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: “The safe easing or lifting of restrictions on travel are essential for the restart of tourism and the return of the social and economic benefits the sector offers.
“The trend towards destinations taking evidence-based approaches to restrictions reflects the evolving nature of the pandemic will also help restore confidence in travel while helping keep both tourists and tourism workers safe.”
As in previous editions of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report research, this report shows that regional differences with regards to travel restrictions remain.
Before Omicron, Asia and the Pacific remained the region with the most restrictions in place, with 65 per cent of all destinations completely closed. Europe was the most open global region to international tourists (7 per cent of borders were completely closed), followed by Africa (9 per cent), the Americas (10 per cent) and the Middle East (15 per cent).
The UNWTO says: “The ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic further emphasises the importance of national authorities ensuring that immigration procedures and requirements are provided in a timely, reliable and consistent manner across all information systems and platforms, to maintain confidence and trust and to further facilitate international mobility.”