COVID-19: UN tourism agency says the world is closed

World Tourism Organisation says 100% of global destinations restrict travel

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(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

AAV_NewsletterThe United Nations agency charged with monitoring worldwide tourism says the COVID-19 pandemic has placed the whole world on lockdown. New research from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) shows that 100 percent of global destinations continue to have restrictions on travel in place and 72 percent have completely closed their borders to international tourism. From the start of the crisis, the UN agency for tourism has been tracking responses to the pandemic. The latest research shows that while discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions are underway, 100 percent of destinations worldwide still have COVID-19-related travel restrictions for international tourists in place.

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A screenshot of the virus tracking site at Johns Hopkins University taken on 13 May. To access the live site, click on the image. (PHOTO: Matt Driskill)

Out of all 217 destinations worldwide, 156, or 72 percent, have placed a complete stop on international tourism according to the data collected as of 27 April 2020. In 25 percent of destinations, restrictions have been in place for at least three months, while in 40 percent of destinations restrictions were introduced at least two months ago.


Download the UNWTO travel restriction report here.


Most importantly, the research also found that no destination has so far lifted or eased travel restrictions. 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, agency officials said in a statement.

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Airlines around the world have had to ground hundreds of planes as they deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 virus, which has a major impact on world tourism as countries have closed their borders. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)
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Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UNWTO. (PHOTO: UNWTO)

UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “Tourism has been the hardest hit of all the major sectors as countries lockdown and people stay at home. 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.”

The UNWTO research tracks measures taken since the end of January, when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Breaking the research down by region, UNWTO has found that 83 percent of destinations in Europe have introduced complete closure of borders for international tourism. In the Americas, this proportion stands at 80 percent, in Asia and the Pacific it is 70 percent, in the Middle East it is 62 percent and in Africa it is 57 percent.

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Asian Aviation
Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.

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