The world moves towards relaxation of travel restrictions

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the growing momentum towards reopening borders and easing travel restrictions, as COVID-19 moves into the endemic phase.

An IATA survey of travel restrictions for the world’s top 50 air travel markets (comprising 88% of international demand in 2019 as measured by revenue passenger-kilometres) revealed the increasing access available to vaccinated travelers :

25 markets representing 38% of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine measures or testing requirements, up from 18 markets (28% of 2019 international demand) as of mid-February.
38 markets representing 65% of 2019 international demand are open to vaccinated travelers without quarantine requirements, up from 28 markets (50% of 2019 international demand) as of mid-February.

Repeated passenger surveys conducted by IATA during the pandemic have shown that testing and especially quarantining are the main barriers to travel.

Travel in Asia continues to be heavily compromised by COVID restrictions. While international traffic from North America and Europe recovered to -42% from their 2019 peaks last year, Asia Pacific traffic remained at -88%. However, even in this region there has been some progress, with India and Malaysia among the countries that recently announced relaxation of restrictions.

The relaxation of measures reflects a growing consensus that travel restrictions, such as border closures and quarantines, do little to control the spread of COVID-19. A recent report by OXERA and Edge Health, which analyzed the spread of the Omicron variant in Europe, concluded that travel restrictions can only delay the peak of a wave by a few days.

“The world is largely open for travel. As population immunity grows, more governments are managing COVID-19 through surveillance, as they do with other endemic viruses. That’s great news for a growing number of destinations that will get a much-needed economic boost from the upcoming Easter and Northern Summer travel seasons. Asia is the outlier. Hopefully, the recent relaxations that include Australia, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Pakistan and the Philippines are paving the way for restoring the freedom to travel more widely enjoyed in other parts of the world,” said Willie Walsh, IATA Director General.