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COVID-19 has exposed a large number of weaknesses, not only in the way we interact with disease but also in how we interact with one another. Tourism is built on human interaction and in recent years over-tourism (congestion or overcrowding as a result of an excess of tourists) has become an increasing concern for many in the industry. Enter Coronavirus and what was once a few concerned experts has turned to real and immediate risk. The Austrian ‘Ibiza of the Alps’ has recently vowed to move away from party tourism(opens in a new tab) towards a more up-market après-ski. This is after they became a hotspot for the virus, with over 800 cases within Austria linked to the ski town of Ischgl.
The decision to move away from party tourism isn’t isolated to Austria either. Croatia, the EU nation that potentially relies on tourism the most, has proposed various ways to still have a tourist summer season in 2020(opens in a new tab). These include opening up mariners for owners of yachts, isolated facilities, and campsites. All to mitigate the already massive losses for the industry that contributes to 20% of the nation’s GDP. It is interesting to note that both nations are moving towards high-end options. This might also be a reflection of what demographic will begin traveling again in the short term future.
Cruise ships are another point being widely discussed. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has advised all travellers(opens in a new tab) to avoid boarding cruise ships due to the risk they present. In Australia, one in every ten Coronavirus cases are linked to a cruise ship that docked in March(opens in a new tab). Cruise ships have frequently presented issues of over-tourism, particularly for smaller island nations.
When tourism begins to resume, we can expect a different landscape. The first people returning will either be for business travel or upper-class individuals, likely seeking lower-risk destinations. Perhaps this is the end of over-tourism.
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