Governments, tourist offices, airlines, hotel companies, travel agencies and cruise operators, as well as tour bus drivers, housekeepers, local guides, pilots, restaurateurs, museum operators, bed and breakfast hosts, artists , caterers, fishermen, traders and bar owners – in short, anyone who could benefit from tourism dollars – face extreme economic pressure not to waste another tourist season. The year gone by without travel, when international arrivals increased from 1.5 billion to 381 million, was devastating. For many, another similar year would be unthinkable.
And so an already stressed system has been forced to face an existential dilemma: Are countries opting for continued international blockages, or are they increasing the risk of disease and courting much-needed tourism revenues? New Zealand, which, thanks to a combination of strict closures, border closures and strict quarantines, has all but wiped the coronavirus off its shores, has claimed its claim at one end of the spectrum. Greece appears to be claim the other.
There are no easy answers, no one size fits all. In many cases, it will be up to individual tourists – the lucky few and vaccinated, with the incentives and feverish to travel – to navigate ethical considerations thoughtfully.
Of all the variables, only one thing seems inevitable: The choices we make, whether to venture out or snuggle up close to home, probably don’t bode well for individual workers – the hapless and unvaccinated – who, due to the circumstances, are vulnerable to both the virus and the faltering fortunes of a hard-hit industry.
“I think we have learned some important lessons over the year on how to engage in public spaces more safely,” said Dr Fortune, who stressed that it is important for women. vaccinated travelers to continue testing, wearing masks and practicing social distancing. .
“I think the real danger,” she added, “is that the most vulnerable people are those who have the least capacity to mitigate the risks.”