Third of destinations closed to tourism

11 March 2021 | Tourism

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

One in three tourist destinations worldwide are now closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the latest data released by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus has prompted many governments to reverse efforts to ease restrictions on travel.

The presence of the South African coronavirus variant has been confirmed in Namibia.

The UNTWO Travel Restrictions Report provides a comprehensive overview of the regulations in place for 217 destinations worldwide.

Previous editions showed a movement towards easing or lifting of restrictions on travel, but the latest report shows the persistent seriousness of epidemiological situation has caused governments to adopt a more cautious approach.

It says that as of the beginning of February, 32% of all destinations worldwide (69 in total) were completely closed for international tourism. Of these, just over half (38) have been closed for at least 40 weeks.

Meanwhile, 34% of worldwide destinations are now partially closed to international tourists, while 2% have lifted all Covid-19 related travel restrictions.

However, 32% of all destinations worldwide request the presentation of negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or antigen tests upon arrival as the main requirement when entering a destination, often combined with quarantine. Namibia is one of these countries.

“Travel restrictions have been widely used to restrict the spread of the virus. Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognise that restrictions are just one part of the solution. Their use must be based on the latest data and analysis and consistently reviewed so as to allow for the safe and responsible restart of a sector upon which millions of businesses and jobs depends.”

The report shows that regional differences with regards to travel restrictions remain. Of the 69 destinations where borders are completely closed to tourists, 30 are in Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the Americas and three are in the Middle East.

The UNWTO research also indicates a trend towards adopting a more nuanced, evidence- and risk-based approach to implementing travel restrictions. Growing numbers of destinations worldwide now require international tourists to present a negative PCR or antigen test upon arrival and also provide contact details for tracing purposes.

Indeed, 32% of all worldwide destinations now have the presentation of such tests as their main requirement for international arrivals often combined with quarantine, while the same amount have made tests a secondary or tertiary measure.

Analysis of the top ten tourism source markets currently advising against non-essential travel abroad found they generated 44% of all international arrivals in 2018.

UNWTO says that advice issued by governments will play a crucial role in the restart and recovery of tourism in the weeks and months ahead.

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