Vaccines and Digital Solutions to Ease Travel Restrictions

New data from the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicates that the global vaccination rollout and increased adoption of digital solutions for safe travel should lead to a rise in international mobility in the coming weeks and months.

According to the newest edition of the Travel Restrictions Report from the United Nations specialized agency for tourism, as of June 1, 2021, 29 per cent of all destinations worldwide have their borders completely closed to international tourism. More than half of these have been closed to tourists since May 2020 or longer. Only three destinations (Albania, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic) are completely open to tourists, with no restrictions.

“Governments are instrumental for the restart and recovery of tourism through collaboration, use of data, and digital solutions,” said UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili in the press release.

One in three (34 per cent) of all destinations are partially closed, and 36 per cent require a negative COVID-19 test result upon arrival, in some cases in combination with quarantining. The data shows a trend toward destinations adopting more “nuanced, evidence-and-risk-based approaches” to restrictions on travel.

UNWTO research shows that 42 per cent of all destinations have introduced specific restrictions for visitors from destinations with variants of concern ranging from the suspension of flights and closing of borders to compulsory quarantine.

Additionally, since most of those destinations with the strictest measures have some of the lowest rates of vaccination, the data also indicates a link between vaccination speed and easing of restrictions. Regional differences regarding travel restrictions remain: 70 per cent of all destinations in Asia and the Pacific are completely closed, compared to 13 per cent in Europe, and 20 per cent in the Americas, 19 per cent in Africa, and 31 per cent in the Middle East.

The report indicates that the restart of global tourism “will remain muted so long as governments continue to advise caution.”


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