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With travel reopening more widely this year since the pandemic hit — particularly in highly vaccinated North America, the UK and the European Union — it might seem as though global movement is inching its way back to a more reasonable cadence, in spite of the Delta variant, and that tourism is slowly getting back on track.
But here’s a reality check: travel remains more restricted today than it was when vaccines were announced in late 2020. At a global level, comparing across various regions and countries around the world, the average number of travel entry restrictions from a single destination totals 350, according to a recent report by Swiss Bank UBS’ Evidence Lab. This number has remained steady for the most part since the start of the year across all regions, with no sign of decreasing.
UBS Evidence Lab’s analysis tracks the trends in the number and type of global travel restrictions across 247 countries and regions, and over 60,000 travel routes, and balances a variety of restrictions, including those that are related to medical, mobility, nationality, and visa changes.
It gets worse when you start looking at travel routes across the world and countries. Examining a total 60,782 total travel routes globally, 84 percent of them remain restricted, UBS’ report shows — the same percentage of restriction that was in place in April 30, 2020.
But let’s look further into the various regions: 88 percent travel routes in the EU have restrictions on travelers, against 80 percent for Asia and South East Asia’s routes.
It gets more astounding as you move on the number of restrictions imposed by individual countries. China expectedly tops the list as the strictest with 981 travel entry restrictions globally, while the U.S. counts 456, and Germany and Italy top the EU member countries with 248 total travel restrictions each. Not far behind are Canada at 245 and the UK at 252.
On the other hand, just 33 of the world’s destinations have single digit travel restrictions — Mexico and Colombia at zero, war-torn Myanmar, and the Palestinian Territories.
If this report serves as a reminder, it’s this: restrictions are here to stay for a long while yet and vaccines haven’t changed that, despite the expectation that it would be an immediate game changer for the tourism sector. To wit, the EU just took the U.S. off its safe list in a political tit-for-tat, the UK’s fast-changing traffic light system is now a routine exercise, as is exorbitantly priced Covid testing at a global level, and all the while, the rest of the world awaits vaccine access.