DURBAN – According to research published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), countries are cautiously starting to ease travel restrictions put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The UN special agency’s findings were collected from 217 destinations around the world as of May 18, 2020. It found that three percent of all global destinations have taken steps to ease travel restrictions prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report follows last week’s release of UNWTO’s Global Guidelines to Restart Tourism, aimed at helping the sector emerge more sustainably from Covid-19. Produced in cooperation with the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, the guidelines highlight the need to act decisively to restore confidence and to embrace innovation.
“The timely and responsible easing of travel restrictions will help ensure the many social and economic benefits that tourism guarantees will return in a sustainable way,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Despite these signs of progress, the report notes that 100 percent of worldwide destinations maintain some form of Covid-19-related restrictions.
“These guidelines provide both governments and businesses with a comprehensive set of measures designed to help them open tourism up again in a safe, seamless and responsible manner,” said Pololikashvili.
The more important tourism is to individual economies, the more likely it is that countries have responded with complete border closures. In the case of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the report finds that 85 per cent continue to remain completely closed to tourists.
UNWTO warns that international tourist arrivals could fall between 60 and 80 per cent, depending on when restrictions are lifted. This could place 100 to 120 million jobs at risk and potentially lead to $910 billion to $1.2 trillion lost in exports.
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