News: World Tourism Organization offers stunning but not surprising fact about travel restrictions

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Since the end of January, the United Nations specialized agency for tourism — the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) — has been tracking measures taken when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

Something that we might not be surprised about, but still seems unreal: the agency’s new research, collected as of April 27. shows that 100% of global destinations continue to have restrictions for international travel in place, and 72% have completely closed their borders to international tourism.

While discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions are underway, out of all 217 destinations worldwide, 156 have placed a complete stop on international tourism.

In a quarter of destinations, restrictions have been in place for at least three months, while in 40%, restrictions were introduced at least two months ago.

Most importantly, the research also found that no destination has so far lifted or eased travel restrictions.

Restrictions Across All Global Regions
Breaking the research down by region, UNWTO has found that 83% of destinations in Europe have introduced complete closure of borders for international tourism. In the Americas, this proportion stands at 80%; in Asia and the Pacific, 70%; in the Middle East, 62%; and in Africa, 57%.

Call to Start Reopening
“Tourism has been the hardest hit of all the major sectors as countries lock down and people stay at home,” said UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili. 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.

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.”

NWTO 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, the UNWTO Secretary-General has addressed Ministers of the G20 and of the EU Commission, making the case for tourism to be made a priority as countries look to recover from the crisis.

By Lea Lane
Source: forbes.com

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