SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting global lockdown and the travel restrictions are a massive shock to the tourism industry in every nation. It is estimated that tourism arrivals could fall by 20%-30% compared to 2019. Tourism is among the industries that are hit the hardest by the global pandemic .
But what exactly can be done in these tough times? This question was asked among our community members in Africa and Europe because we all are passionate travellers and explorers, who are now confined to one location.
Therefore, we started a video project that showcases our whereabouts with our unique perspective, so together we can break out of our daily routine. It is also a chance to develop myself and step out of my comfort zone. Usually, I do not produce videos or stand comfortably in front of a camera.
The idea was to support a friend with his travel startup, but it developed into a video project that is meant to connect people, give them some hope and invite them to travel digitally during the lockdown.
While working on this voluntary project, many thoughts and ideas came up, such as how the current situation could lead to more sustainable tourism after the crisis.
As stated in Sustainable Development Goal No. 12: “Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns: Tourism should develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that create jobs and promote local culture and products .”
But with many jobs at risk and global travel restrictions current, support of this goal is difficult. What are we observing now and what could be applied to tourism after the crisis?
In all our videos, we see empty places. Some of them are usually full of tourists, others are more rural areas where we can see a quiet and peaceful landscape. Do you ask yourself about the influence mass tourism has on local people and the environment? If you remember your last trip to one of your favourite places, you realized that it is also a popular spot for others. How did it influence your experience? And, did you ever think about the locals who live in such a tourist hot spot? In the time before SARS-CoV-2 we do remember many discussions about mass tourism in popular hot spots and here we see a chance to introduce you to places that are still unknown, but beautiful and rich in culture. Rural destinations, especially, are struggling these days, but raising awareness about them offers a chance for them to be discovered and to attract new visitors after the crisis . In these areas, you will not find a mature infrastructure yet, but starting from nothing offers a fantastic opportunity to build a sustainable infrastructure from the very beginning. This could be a chance, especially for smaller hotels to strongly commit themselves to sustainability to attract new travellers. In times of crisis, there is a rising awareness about sustainability and our interdependence with nature as well. Because of the way many people are losing their jobs now, this might result in a decision-making process that considers the different dimensions of sustainability. It puts us in a position to thoroughly reflect upon this situation. One way or another, the reader must cope with this challenge her- or himself. Consequently, we should also contemplate our travel behaviour .
In terms of the influence tourism has on nature, it is often argued that external costs like CO2 are not considered in the pricing of tourism services, for example, flight tickets . We currently observe a decline in CO2 and other greenhouse gases . The emissions in China, for example, fell 25% at the beginning of the year, which resulted in better air quality in their cities . Besides a reduction in CO2 emissions, it is also observed that fewer vehicles on the road cause less roadkill in the UK . What can we learn from these findings? It is argued that nature should be part of the solution . We may use these learnings to harmonize our actions towards nature and support the SDGs as well. This may result in a more sustainable lifestyle, not just for consumers but also producers and suppliers.
Travelling – most of us love discovering the world to get connected with others, learning about diverse cultures and yourself, while being lost in an unknown place. Whatever our reasons are, we are social beings, and nowadays we have to physically distance ourselves. Our video project cannot break this barrier, but it will give you the feeling of staying connected around the globe with like-minded individuals. We should not forget that we are in a comparable situation. We want to keep our hearts and heads up until we can see each other again. We can look forward with the knowledge that our curiosity and an open mindset are the keys to recreate the world more sustainably.
One can conclude that with our project, we would like to engage, commit and be part of the solution for more sustainable tourism.
Do you want to #hopinonline with us? Please reach out too for further information on how to engage in our video project.
For more information, please also read the article from my friend, Krisztina Kapuvári. https://www.facebook.com/notes/what-are-you-still-waiting-for/sustainability-and-digital-tourism-during-covid-19/1363105983881066/
– Stephanie Kusemann
 (2007): Dr Susanne Becken, Prof. John E. Hay; Tourism and Climate Change: Risks and Opportunities
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