Since lockdown, the tourism industry has been decimated, and in some areas it may never recover again – at least not to pre-Covid levels. Whilst we have seen the clear impacts of the pandemic on tourism, such as falling stock prices and airlines going bust, there are many aspects of this which aren’t clear to the naked eye. The following offers a glimpse of the sad truth.
When we think about a slow-down in tourism, immediate thoughts go to airlines, transport companies and of course hotels and private rentals, but there is much more to it than this. Restaurants, bars and clubs in heavy tourist areas depend on that trade in order to survive, mom and pop stores selling ice cream and candy depend on the influx of tourists too. Beyond this we have tour companies struggling to survive. Here in Aus we have the brilliant Welcome to Country tour operator, which has seen a sharp downturn in customers, the perfect example of the impact of the pandemic. Some will survive, sadly however many more will not.
Business closure leads to unemployment and empty hotel rooms. The closure of a business is bad enough, but even those which have survived are having to take tough decisions with regards to their employees. Beyond this, think about the huge number of students and young people who take on temporary jobs over the busy tourist season, giving them the chance to learn about the world of work, meet others and develop their character. This is an opportunity which so many have lost out on.
A classic example of those unseen impacts of Covid is the situation regarding wildlife. There are so many zoos and sanctuaries around the world that depend on paying guests in order to look after those animals. Without the tourists, many of these places are going to greatly struggle to maintain the health of the animals and the great work which so many of these facilities are doing.
Positive Impacts on Environment
To end on something of a more positive note, the lack of tourism isn’t all bad, if we look at the big picture. The reduction in air traffic and air miles, not to mention the great reduction in waste and disruption which tourism often generates, has given our planet a chance to breathe. We only need to look at the coral bleaching which is taking place in the Great Barrier Reef to recognize the damage which we are doing to the planet. At least this minimal period of travel will offer some respite. In an ideal world of course, it wouldn’t take a pandemic to minimize the damage we are doing.
As we open back up again, it is more important than ever before that we focus on domestic tourism and learning more about the country in which we live.