According to the latest report by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), United Nations specialised agency, three per cent of all global destinations have now taken steps to ease travel restrictions.

The fourth edition of  Covid-19 Related Travel Restrictions: A Global Review for Tourism report by UNWTO looked at the measures of 217 destinations worldwide as of May 18. The research highlights that seven destinations have eased travel restrictions for international tourism purposes and simultaneously several more destinations are looking at ways to reopen their borders.

UNWTO added that 75 per cent of the destinations continued to have closed borders for international tourists.

Caution remains as it has been noted that 100 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have some form of Covid-19-related travel restrictions imposed.

UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said, “The timely and responsible easing of travel restrictions will help ensure the many social and economic benefits that tourism guarantees will return in a sustainable way. This will contribute to the livelihoods of many millions of people around the world.

“The sector is a driver of sustainable development and a pillar of economies. UNWTO stresses the need for vigilance, responsibility and international cooperation as the world slowly opens up again.”

International tourist arrivals could fall by between 60 per cent and 80 per cent; thereby putting 100-120 million jobs at risk.

Recently, UNWTO also unveiled a set of global guidelines that will help tourism sectors recover quickly and in a sustainable manner.

The guidelines focus on restoring the confidence of the travellers through safety and security protocols and fostering a digital transformation of destinations, companies and employees.

The guidelines, developed in consultation with the Global Tourism Crisis Committee, cover the following:

  • Safe and seamless border management (air, sea and ground travel): Ensure regional and international coordination in the reopening of borders, and provide easy to access information on travel restrictions and protocols to name a few.
  • Crosscutting measures in private sectors: Training the personnel in safety and security measures; creating an internal Covid-19 coordination committee and redesigning processes towards more digital contactless operations among others.
  • Safe travel: Increasing the frequency of aircraft cleaning; boarding and deboarding processes that reduce contact; and simplifying catering and other inflight services are suggested.
  • Hospitality: This includes implementing contactless check-in; keeping spare rooms for sick or quarantine guests and physical distancing in common areas.
  • Tour operators and travel agencies: Creating personalised and small group tours and packages; incentivise domestic tourism and promote rent-a-car services and a combined hotel and car packages.
  • Meetings and events: Offer packed meals taking into account the aspect of sustainability; create digital events and offer traditional mid-size events for the domestic market are few options to explore.
  • Attractions and theme parks: Reduce or manage capacity to facilitate appropriate social distancing; encourage online payments and pre-bookings and emphasise on the use of masks/face coverings for guests and staff.
  • Destination planning and management: Ensure coordination among tourism, health and transport policies; and define roles and responsibilities for governments, private sector and travellers.