Int’l tourist arrivals fall by 87 pct in January: UNWTO

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MADRID, March 31 (Xinhua) — International tourist arrivals fell by 87 percent year-on-year in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said on Wednesday.

After a drop of 74 percent in 2020 due to the global pandemic, “all world regions continued to experience large drops in tourist arrivals in the first month of the year,” the UNWTO said in its World Tourism Barometer.

Mandatory testing, quarantines, and in some cases the complete closure of borders, have all hindered the resumption of international travel, the Madrid-based organization said.

“In addition, the speed and distribution of the vaccination roll-out have been slower than expected, further delaying the restart of tourism,” it said.

Vaccination is underway worldwide, with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines and 267 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States.

The Asia and the Pacific region saw a 96-percent fall in international tourist arrivals in January, while there was an 85-percent drop in Europe and Africa respectively, 84 percent in the Middle East and 77 percent in the Americas.

“(The year of) 2020 was the worst year on record for tourism. The international community needs to take strong and urgent action to ensure a brighter 2021,” the UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said in a press communique.

He asked for “improved coordination between countries,” and urged for “harmonized travel and health protocols” to restore confidence in tourism and allow international travel to resume safely ahead of the peak summer season in the Northern Hemisphere.

Polilikashvili on Tuesday discussed the “green digital pass” with Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of the European Commission.

The pass was not a vaccination certificate but would be “proof that you don’t present any risk,” Schinas said.

He explained that the European Commission hoped to implement the certificate by the start of June and reach reciprocal agreements with non-EU member states. Enditem

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