The Whole World on Travel Lockdown, says UNWTO

Research confirms that 100 percent of global destinations have restrictions on travel in place, while 72 percent have completely closed their borders to international tourism.

(Photo: RichLegg/iStock)

Global tourism remains at a standstill as all destinations worldwide maintain COVID-19-related travel restrictions for international tourists, according to recent research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Based on data collected as of April 27, 2020, the agency determined that of all 217 U.N.-recognized destinations worldwide, 156 (72 percent) have put a complete stop on international tourism. In 25 percent of destinations, restrictions have been in place for at least three months, while 40 percent introduced restrictions at least two months ago. Perhaps more significantly, while discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions are underway, the research also found that no destination has so far eased travel restrictions.

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a statement, “Tourism has been the hardest hit of all the major sectors as countries lock down and people stay at home. UNWTO calls on governments to work together to coordinate the easing and lifting of restrictions in a timely and responsible manner, when it is deemed safe to do so.”

By region, UNWTO has found that 70 percent of destinations in Asia and the Pacific have introduced complete closure of borders for international tourism. In Europe, the proportion stands at 83 percent, while in the Americas it is 80 percent. For the Middle East and Africa, the number is 62 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

Mr. Pololikashvili added: “Tourism is a lifeline to millions, especially in the developing world. Opening the world up to tourism again will save jobs, protect livelihoods and enable our sector to resume its vital role in driving sustainable development.”

UNWTO has been working closely with international organizations, national governments, and the private sector to support the responsible and timely recovery of tourism. Within the past two weeks, Mr. Pololikashvili has addressed ministers of the G20 nations and of the European Union Commission about the need to prioritize the tourism sector as countries strategize their recovery from the crisis.

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