At the height of the pandemic, bad news regarding travel came daily; a domino effect of countries announcing closures, restrictions and lockdowns one after the other, with seemingly no end in sight. Yet 2021 appears to be the year that things start returning to normal. A survey by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that as many as two-thirds of global destinations are open for tourism of some sort – meaning you might not have to cancel your dreams of a holiday just yet. Here’s a look at what the latest findings tell us, and why its good news for travelers.
Where Did The Information Come From?
Based in Madrid, the World Tourism Organization is the United Nations specialized agency entrusted with the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. Through the pandemic, the agency has worked to provide answers to various Covid-19 related questions, and has worked closely with countries in order to help see them through the tough times of the pandemic.
The agency published a report this week titled The UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report, which aimed to provide a clear, comprehensive overview of the regulations and restrictions in place at 217 destinations around the world.
What Does The Report Tell Travelers?
The report issues a number of facts for travelers that show the current state of international travel. Key findings, accurate as of February 1st, included:
- 32% of all destinations worldwide are completely closed for international tourism
- 34% are partially closed
- 2% have lifted all COVID-19 related travel restrictions
Of the 217 countries included in the survey, the data shows that:
- 69 destinations (32% of all destinations worldwide) have their borders completely closed
- 73 destinations (34% of all destinations worldwide) have partially closed their borders
- 70 destinations (32% of all destinations worldwide) request the presentation of negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) or antigen tests upon arrival as the main requirement when entering a destination, often combined with quarantine
- 5 destinations (2%) have lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions
The findings also revealed the difference in regional attitudes towards re-opening borders; 30 of the 69 countries with fully-closed borders were in Asia and the Pacific, 15 were in Europe, 11 in Africa, 10 in the Americas and 3 are in the Middle East.
Why Travelers Should Be Optimistic About The Findings
Whilst travelers can be forgiven for seeing a third of countries completely closed for travel and fearing the worst, an alternate viewpoint would be to consider the fact that two-thirds of countries that are letting travelers enter for whatever reason – giving travelers more than 140 different options to choose from when it comes to planning a trip.
Additionally, it is worth pointing out that of the 69 countries that have fully closed their borders, 38 of these have done so for the past 40 weeks at least – suggesting that regardless of the situation improving, their borders are closed for the foreseeable future. Instead, it is helpful to consider those countries that were once in the fully closed position, but have slowly opened up as the battle against the pandemic has improved. Countries like Greece, once with more severe restrictions but now looking set to welcome travelers from May, and countless other travel success stories. Two thirds of countries are options for travelers – but, at the rate that cases are falling and vaccinations are rising, this figure is bound to rise in the near future.
A growing list of countries around the world are now lifting or easing entry requirements for vaccinated travelers as rollouts of vaccine programs speed up.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories