70% of Destinations Lift Travel Restrictions But Southeast Asia Remains Mostly Closed

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently published the 8th edition of their UNWTO Travel restrictions Report.

The headline figure is that 70% of destinations worldwide had, at least partly, eased the travel restrictions that had been imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The outlook in Southeast Asia is less promising however with Asia and the Pacific region being highlighted as the area with fewest travel restrictions eased.

The Report shows that globally, as of 1st November, a total of 152 destinations have eased restrictions on international tourism, up from the 115 recorded on 1st September.

However 59 destinations (27% of worldwide destinations) have kept their borders closed to tourists, 34 less than in September. Included within these 59 nations are Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Timor Leste and Vietnam.

Singapore and Thailand are listed as countries with restrictions on specific countries. Cambodia is listed as a country with Visa measures in place.

“The lifting of travel restrictions is essential to drive our wider recovery from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. Governments have an important part to play in giving data-led and responsible travel advice and in working together to lift restrictions as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General

It seems unlikely that travel restrictions in many Southeast Asia countries will be lifted anytime soon.

  • Singapore have introduced a number of schemes but their Travel Bubble with Hong Kong had had to be put on hold until 2021 after an increase in cases in Hong Kong.
  • Thailand is likely to remain closed for general tourism until at least April 2021 although limited numbers are being allowed access through the STV and TV
  • The Philippines is likely to be closed for the rest of 2020 with confirmation that the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) will be in place for the whole of December
  • Malaysia has previously announced it will remain closed until at least 2021 prompting concern for many tourist businesses and jobs.
  • Vietnam has stopped international flights following a number of new cases in Ho Chi Minh City and there has been no indication of tourism starting anytime soon.
  • Despite some calls for Bali to reopen to tourists, it is unlikely that Indonesia will allow tourists anywhere until at least 2021.

The Southeast Asia region has so far recorded more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 28,000 deaths.

The Economic Importance of Tourism

The report also highlights the impact that tourism has on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of individual countries.

Cambodia and The Philippines are both listed as having a High Tourism GDP (T-GDP) where tourism accounts for more than 20% of total GDP.

Countries listed as having a Considerable T-GDP, over 10% and less than 20%, are Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei, Laos and Vietnam are all Moderate T-GDP countries where tourism accounts for 5 to 10% of overall GDP. Even so Vietnam has experienced a $23 billion hit through the loss of tourism.

Only Myanmar has a Low T-GDP, less than 5%, in Southeast Asia.

Photo credit Chris Slupski on Unsplash

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Published by flyingdogtravel

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