By Donald Wood
A new report suggests that travel restrictions around the world have been eased over the last month despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), around 40 percent of all international destinations had eased restrictions as of July 19, which is a drastic increase from the 22 percent open for tourism in June.
While many popular tourism hotspots continue reopening to travelers, an estimated 53 percent of all destinations worldwide continue to keep their borders closed to international arrivals. Only three percent of destinations were open for business in May. “The restart of tourism can be undertaken responsibly and in a way that safeguards public health while also supporting businesses and livelihoods,” UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said. “As destinations continue to ease restrictions on travel, international cooperation is of paramount importance. This way, global tourism can gain people’s trust and confidence, essential foundations as we work together to adapt to the new reality we now face.” The UNWTO has seen that destinations dependent on tourism are more likely to ease travel restrictions. Of the 87 destinations that have eased restrictions, the report found that 20 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which count on tourism for employment, economic growth and development. In addition, the report shows that around half of the destinations that eased restrictions are in Europe, confirming the leading role of the region for the responsible restart of tourism. Earlier this week, Greece announced it would welcome back cruise traffic at six ports—Piraeus, Rhodes, Heraklion, Volos, Corfu and Katakolo—beginning August 1. Ships must comply with elevated health and safety protocols designed to limit the spread of coronavirus.