Over 60% of Asia still closed to tourists, versus 17% of Europe

Over 60% of Asia still closed to tourists, versus 17% of Europe

SINGAPORE -- Asian countries were some of the most aggressive in closing their borders to fight COVID-19 and are among the slowest to reopen to tourists, recently compiled data shows, underscoring the prolonged pressure on economies that rely heavily on international visitors. As of Sept. 1, 28 countries or territories in the Asia-Pacific region -- 61% -- remained completely closed to foreign tourists according to the World Tourism Organization, a United Nations agency. This was far ahead of the 17% of European destinations that were still off-limits, and exceeded the 41% for the Americas and 51% for Africa as well. Globally, 43% of 215 surveyed destinations were keeping their borders closed to tourists. "Asia and the Pacific destinations are taking longer to ease restrictions," the agency pointed out in a report issued earlier this month. "This is of particular interest as the destinations in Asia and the Pacific were among the first ones that introduced travel restrictions from the very beginning of the outbreak of the virus." Of 27 destinations that have completely closed for over 30 weeks, 19 are in the Asia-Pacific region, it noted. Many European countries resumed intraregional cross-border tourism around June, ahead of summer, before gradually allowing travelers from non-European countries to enter. Since European countries in the Schengen zone have open borders in normal times, restoring travel may have been more straightforward than it is elsewhere. Meanwhile, the Asian countries that remain completely closed include top tourism markets that are reporting relatively low daily infection numbers -- China, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Thailand, which ...
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