Popular destinations not available for tourists

Popular destinations not available for tourists

Almost a third of destinations around the world are now completely closed to international tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced on Monday in its report.

When governments began to ease travel restrictions last year, "the emergence of new variants of the virus" and a "serious epidemic situation" reversed that trend, the Madrid-based organization said.

At the beginning of February this year. Of the world's 217 most popular destinations, or 32 percent, were completely closed, including 30 in Asia and the Pacific, 15 in Europe and 11 in Africa. This is a decrease from the widest border closure in May 2020, when 75 percent of worldwide destinations were fully closed, but an increase since November, when only 27 percent were closed. tourism destinations.

The UNWTO highlighted a "more nuanced, evidence-based and risk-based approach" to travel restrictions, such as the requirement that foreign tourists present a negative coronavirus test on arrival.

Almost a third (32 percent) of destinations worldwide now require "PCR or antigen test" results upon arrival, often accompanied by quarantine.

"Travel restrictions have been used extensively to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Now, as we seek to revive tourism, we must admit that restrictions are only part of the solution," UNWTO Director Zurab Polilikashvili said in the release.

2020 was "the worst year in the history of tourism" in the world, according to the UNWTO. The number of tourists was 74 percent lower than in 2019, or almost a billion.

The pandemic caused a $ 1.3 trillion in tourism industry losses last year, a shortage 11 times greater than during the 2009 global financial crisis. (PAP)