Globally the countries again tightened travel restrictions in response to new virus outbreaks and global tourism has suffered further setbacks at the beginning of 2021 following a difficult end to 2020. Earlier this year it has shown a movement towards easing or lifting restrictions on travel but now the emergence of new variants of the COVID-19 virus has prompted many governments to reverse the action to ease the restrictions.
The optimism that the arrival and initial distribution of vaccines would lead to a prompt and orderly restoration in global air travel has been dashed in the face of new outbreaks and new mutations of the disease. The persistent seriousness of the epidemiological situation has caused governments to adopt a more cautious approach and make more strict protocols and with closures to tourists in Asia, the Pacific, and Europe.
Now worldwide one in three destinations are completely closed to international tourism. 69 destinations have completely closed the borders to tourists and among them, 30 are in Asia and the Pacific, 15 are in Europe, 11 are in Africa, 10 are in the Americas, and in the Middle East 3 destinations closed the borders.
As per the latest scenario, it is predicted that the recovery of international travel will be pushed to the second half of 2021. Slowing down the removal of worldwide travel barriers and restrictions currently in place are depressing demand to travel and reducing consumer confidence.
The latest economic forecast by WTTC gives hope to businesses and millions of people employed in the Tourism sector worldwide for the year ahead. The revival of the sector is backed by WTTC’s most optimistic scenario which predicts that as many as 111 million jobs could be revived with travel recovery starting from late March, depends on the factors vaccination programmes, and comprehensive test-and-trace regimes together with consistent and strong international coordination in the private and public sectors.
Now the world is more locked down than in the past 12 months and due to the rapidly changing and globally uncoordinated travel restrictions, the passengers are facing different challenges. It will be better if the governments can work with the industry to develop the standards for vaccination, testing, and validation that will enable them to have the confidence to reopen borders and resume international air travel. Using Technological solutions like Apps that can easily and securely manage the travel in line with any government requirements for COVID-19 testing or vaccine information can also ease the confusion of the travellers and restore the confidence.