One in three destinations worldwide remains completely closed to tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic, mainly in Asia and Europe, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) said on Monday (8).
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Despite the fact that last year countries began to relax restrictions, the emergence of new variants of the virus and “the persistent seriousness of the epidemiological situation led governments to take a more cautious approach,” said the WTO in a statement.
At the beginning of February, 69 of the 217 destinations worldwide (32%) remained completely closed to international tourists, 30 of them in Asia and the Pacific, 15 in Europe and 11 in Africa, according to the Madrid-based UN body.
The peak was recorded in May 2020, when 75% of the world’s destinations were closed. Last November, with the easing, the number was lower than the current one, 27%.
The report detected “a tendency to apply travel restrictions with a more nuanced approach and based on empirical data and risks”. As such, 32% of destinations worldwide request a PCR test on arrival as the main entry requirement, sometimes combined with quarantine.
“Travel restrictions have been used extensively to prevent the spread of the virus. Now, as we work to restart tourism, we must recognize that restrictions are only part of the solution,” estimated WTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, quoted in the communicated.
In 2020, the number of international tourist arrivals dropped by 74% (1 billion arrivals) due to the pandemic, according to the WTO. The pandemic represented an economic loss for the sector estimated at US $ 1.3 trillion.