“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
You probably had a trip planned for 2020. Maybe it was even an international trip. I know I did. At first you held out hope that the pandemic would be over quickly, and you’d be able to take that vacation you’d been dreaming about for so many months. And then as things progressed you probably started cancelling plans and feeling a little less hopeful about life in general.
But the thing is…if you were planning to take a trip, you probably still have a job. You’ll still be able to travel once society recovers. But for so many people around the world, ensuring tourists and travelers have an amazing time was their job. Tourism employs one in every ten people on Earth. Because of the pandemic, 100-120 million direct tourism jobs are at risk. In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than 50%. COVID-19 could cost a loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in international tourism visitor spending.
Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Thanks for the uplifting message…” I get it. But tourism plays an important part in the world, not just the economic and employment affect. It’s important that we’re all aware of how this change has impacts beyond the financial. The tourism crisis is also a threat to wildlife conservation initiatives and to the protection of the world’s cultural heritage. The sudden fall in tourism revenues has cut off funding for biodiversity conservation. With livelihoods at risk in and around protected areas, cases of poaching and looting are expected to rise. With 90% of World Heritages Sites closed as a result of the pandemic, humanity’s cultural heritage is at risk in all parts of the world.
Because tourism is so important for the greater good of the world, the United Nations decided in 1980 to annually observe September 27 as World Tourism Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
On this World Tourism Day, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an opportunity to rethink the future of the tourism sector, including how it contributes to sustainable development goals, through its social, cultural, political, and economic value. Tourism can eventually help us move beyond the pandemic, by bringing people together and promoting solidarity and trust – crucial ingredients in advancing the global cooperation so urgently needed at this time. Tourism allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity.
Just because we can’t hop on a plane, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy what the world has to offer virtually. Check out this list of 101+ Virtual Tours of Popular Tourist Attractions Around the World.
Written by Lynda Walz, Sales Executive