The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has welcomed the call of its sister agency, the World Health Organisation (WHO), for restrictions on travel to be lifted or eased.
Citing the varied global responses to the emergence of the of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the WHO has reiterated that restrictions on travel are not effective in suppressing the international spread.
In line with a recurring warning from the UNWTO against the use of blanket restrictions, the tenth meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee in Geneva earlier this month expressed concern that such measures can cause economic and social harm.
They may also “discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging Variants of Concern,” the WHO added.
The committee also noted that measures applied to international travellers such as testing, isolation and quarantine, and vaccinations, should be based on “risk assessments and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers”.
UNWTO secretary general, Zurab Pololikashvili, said: “When it comes to stopping the spread of new virus variants, blanket travel restrictions are simply counterproductive.
“In fact, by cutting the lifeline of tourism, these restrictions do more harm than good, especially in destinations reliant on international tourists for jobs, economic wellbeing and sustainable change.”
The United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects Report for 2022 – to which UNWTO provided the official travel related data – has noted that in both developed and developing, recovery from the impacts of the pandemic is “uneven and fragile”.