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The End of Tourism?

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The End of Tourism?

The Guardian,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

COVID-19 hit the travel and tourism industry hard, giving it an opportunity to change for the better.

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Visionary
  • Engaging


Many people in the developed world consider travel a worthy, or, at the very least, a benign undertaking. But according to journalist Christopher de Bellaigue, the world needs to wake up from its collective Instagram fever dream and recognize the damage tourism does to the environment and to the local economies that depend, to an unhealthy degree, upon it. The COVID-19 travel slowdown is giving people a chance to do just that, but it’s up to municipal and national governments to regulate sanity into existence.


COVID-19 hit the travel and tourism industry hard, but the pause provides an opportunity for change.

Infectious disease spreads as people move from place to place, so it follows that the pandemic would hit the travel and tourism industry particularly hard. Travel and tourism accounted for $1.7 trillion dollars in earnings in 2019, but the UN World Tourism Organization says that number might fall by as much as 80% in 2020. Losses on this scale put the employment of 120 million people at risk. Travel and tourism account for about one out of every 10 jobs, worldwide. 

COVID-19 has revealed that over-dependency on international tourism can have dire consequences. One Kenyan resort, Nashulai, has resorted to begging for donations to fight local starvation caused by the abrupt halt in tourist dollars. As tour company owner Tsotne Japaridze says, COVID-19 offers people a “lesson not to forget their traditional means of making a living.”

Venice is a compelling...

About the Author

Christopher de Bellaigue has reported on the Middle East and South Asia since 1994. He’s the author of The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle Between Faith and Reason.

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