Almost a third of the world's tourism destinations are closed to international visitors because of novel coronavirus restrictions, the United Nations' tourism body has found.
The Madrid based World Tourism Organization, or UNWTO, said in its Travel Restrictions Report released on Monday that a third of the 217 destinations it surveyed remained fully closed to international tourists because of fears about new variants of the coronavirus.
It said some governments had relaxed travel restrictions in recent months, as the main strain of the virus had apparently been brought under control, but reintroduced them over fears about the new strains. But it noted that around half of offlimits destinations have been inaccessible since April 27.
According to the report, 32 percent of destinations that allow access to international visitors demand a satisfactory PCR or antigen test result, and several also require visitors to provide contact details for tracing purposes.
The Madrid based World Tourism Organization, or UNWTO, said in its Travel Restrictions Report released on Monday that a third of the 217 destinations it surveyed remained fully closed to international tourists because of fears about new variants of the coronavirus
Zurab Polilikashvili, the UNWTO's secretary-general, said it may now be time for nations to relax some of their restrictions.
"Travel restrictions have been widely used to restrict the spread of the virus," he said. "As we work to restart tourism, we must recognize that restrictions are just one part of the solution."
According to the report, some international destinations are indeed "adopting a more nuanced, evidence, and risk based approach".
It said resorts that still have blanket bans in place are largely concentrated in Asia, the Pacific region, and Europe, with other parts of the world now welcoming visitors again.
The report said governments in countries that provide many of the world's tourists may want to think carefully about the advice they offer. It said the top10 source markets, which generated 44 percent of international arrivals in 2018, are currently advising citizens against nonessential travel overseas.
The Telegraph newspaper noted that the UNWTO report was issued as China launched a digital health certificate aimed at helping to restart international travel, and as Thailand announced international visitors who have been vaccinated against the virus will only need to spend seven days in quarantine, instead of 14.
The United Kingdom has also played a part in getting tourism moving again, announcing on Tuesday it will allow cruise ships to return to its waters and ports on May 17.
The pandemic cost the global tourism industry US$1.3 trillion in lost revenue last year, more than 11 times the loss recorded during the 2009 global financial crisis.
Copyright: China Daily/Asia News Network