When the tourism crisis becomes an existential threat

Travel warnings, quarantine rules, accommodation bans, lost bookings and last-minute cancellations: the tourism sector has been severely hit by the coronavirus crisis and there is no sign of a reversal in the trend. Observers describe fatal consequences for those who earn their living through tourism - and for the environment.

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The Times (GB) /

Travel is good for environmental protection

The slump in international tourism is hitting developing countries particularly hard, explains The Times:

“Think of the guy on an ad-hoc wage for driving the minibus from the airport to the luxury safari lodge in Tanzania, thereby supporting a family of eight. Think of the person who maintains the engine on the speedboat used by the five-star hotel's scubadiving trips on a Thai island, or the guy with a street stall repairing hiking boots in Kathmandu. In many places, tourism doesn't just bring money. It is the tourism dollar that best protects the tropical reef from dynamite fishing, or the Ugandan gorilla from the poacher's bullet. Venice will still be there after a few years of relative poverty. But will they?”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Mass layoffs just a sign of things to come

Around 2,500 employees of the Estonian shipping company Tallink, which is the largest ferry service in the Baltic Sea, are facing the loss of their jobs. The tourist industry is calling for short-time work measures to bridge the crisis until spring. Eesti Päevaleht, however, doubts the situation will have improved by then:

“Overseas tourism is as good as dead, and so are Baltic cruises. And instead of the initially hoped-for gradual improvement, even tougher travel restrictions than we had this summer are in the pipeline. Even the Baltic travel bubble threatens to burst. The demand for hotels, cruise ships, planes and other travel companies is not as great as it was before the pandemic. ... The decision [on whether to extend the short-time allowance] is difficult. On the one hand, employees in the industry are facing unemployment. On the other, the situation may not have improved much by spring 2021.”

Diena (LV) /

EU needs uniform travel rules

More and more EU countries are re-introducing travel restrictions and quarantines due to higher infection rates. Latvia's borders with Lithuania and Estonia are also to be tightened. For Diena, the fact that the EU has not yet agreed on uniform criteria is a big mistake:

“What's at stake this time is the very value that the EU has been trumpeting for decades: solidarity among member states. Unfortunately, a Kantar survey carried out in the summer shows that 53 percent of EU citizens are dissatisfied with the solidarity demonstrated by EU countries during the Covid pandemic. As a result, many people are asking themselves the logical question: if the member states can't even coordinate a common strategy for travel, what can they do?”