Citing new evidence on the rise and spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, WHO has noted that restrictions on travel are not only ineffective but also counter-productive. Echoing UNWTO’s recuring warning against the use of blanket restrictions, the 10th meeting of the WHO’s International Health Regulations Emergency Committee (Geneva, 19 January) concluded that such measures have done little to stop the spread of new variants and instead have caused social and economic harm, most notably in developing states.
The Committee also noted that travel restrictions can “discourage transparent and rapid reporting of emerging Variants of Concern”, in line with UNWTO’s warning at the end of 2021. The WHO also states that additional travel measures and mitigations, including but not limited to testing, isolation and quarantine, and vaccinations, should be always “evidence-based” and adapted to changing circumstances.
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili says: “When it comes to stopping the spread of new virus variants, travel restrictions are simply not effective. In fact, by cutting the lifeline of tourism, blanket 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”. It also highlights the substantial reversal in progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“It is imperative we restart tourism and so kickstart recovery and get back on track towards meeting the SDGs while responding to Climate Imperatives,” Mr Pololikashvili adds. “UNWTO welcomes WHO’s new guidance, highlighting the ineffectiveness of travel restrictions, and we also amplify their recommendations against using vaccination status as the sole condition for welcoming tourists back, especially when vaccination rates remain so uneven.”
- UN report Underscores Importance of Tourism for Economic Recovery in 2022
- UNWTO Calls Against Blanket Travel Restrictions
About The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency fostering tourism as a vehicle for equal, inclusive and sustainable development. Working with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and seamless travel for all. UNWTO also works to make tourism the foundation of trust and international cooperation and a central pillar of recovery. As part of the wider UN system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.