Countries are cautiously easing Covid-19 travel restrictions as the world slowly opens up again, according to  new research from the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The research shows that seven destinations – just 3% of the total worldwide – have eased travel restrictions for international tourism purposes.

Several more are engaged in “significant discussions” about the re-opening of borders.

But all countries continue to have some form of Covid-19-related travel restrictions in place.

Three-quarters continued to have their borders completely closed for international tourism as of May 18.

In 37% of all cases, travel restrictions have been in place for ten weeks, while a quarter of global destinations have had restrictions in place for 14 weeks or more.

The more important tourism is to the economies of individual destinations, the more likely they are to have introduced complete border closures, the study revealed.

In the case of small island developing states, 85% continue to have their borders completely closed to tourism.

UNWTO has led a joint response and last week released its global guidelines to reopen tourism, outlining steps governments and the private sector can take to accelerate recovery.

UNWTO secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili said: “The timely and responsible easing of travel restrictions will help ensure the many social and economic benefits that tourism guarantees will return in a sustainable way.

“This will contribute to the livelihoods of many millions of people around the world. The sector is a driver of sustainable development and a pillar of economies.

“UNWTO stresses the need for vigilance, responsibility and international co-operation as the world slowly opens up again.”

Pololikashvili welcomed growing confidence in the global tourism sector, noting it stands ready to return to growth.