Forty percent of destinations around the world have eased travel restrictions put in place to combat COVID-19, according to the latest World Tourism Organization analysis.

Up from 22% that had eased by June 15

This latest outlook, recorded July 19, is up from 22% of destinations that had eased restrictions by June 15 and the 3% previously observed by May 15.

At the same time, however, of the 87 destinations that have now eased travel restrictions, just four have completely lifted all restrictions, and 83 have eased them while keeping some measures such as the partial closure of borders.

115 destinations remain completely closed

This latest edition of the UNWTO Travel Restrictions Report in addition shows that 115 destinations (53% of all destinations worldwide) continue to keep their borders completely closed to tourism.

Europe leads tourism restart

According to the report, destinations with a higher dependency on tourism are more likely to be easing restrictions: Of the 87 that have done so recently, 20 are small island developing states, many of which depend on tourism as a central pillar of employment, economic growth and development. The report also shows that around half (41) of all the destinations that have eased restrictions are in Europe, which is leading tourism’s restart.

Looking at the 115 destinations with borders completely closed to international tourism, the report finds that a majority (88) have been closed for more than 12 weeks.

Lost tourism revenues three times greater than during 2009 global economic crisis

The cost related to the travel restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19 has historic dimensions. This week, UNWTO released the data on the impact of the pandemic on tourism, both in terms of lost tourist arrivals and lost revenues. By the end of May, the pandemic had led to $320bn in lost revenues, already three times the cost of the 2009 global economic crisis.