Last year, several tourist destinations around the world were trying to manage the hordes of tourists plaguing their streets.
But now that an unexpected pandemic has devastated the travel industry, those same destinations are trying to salvage their sinking economies.
Will tourism never again be the booming business it once was?
Countries had no solution to their problem of over-tourism.
In 2018, New York City saw as many tourists as the entire population of the United Kingdom.
Amsterdam, Venice, and Barcelona faced similar problems, reaching record high numbers of tourists prior to the pandemic.
These staggering numbers led Amsterdam to reduce its massive influx of tourists by establishing physical barriers to keep pedestrians out of residential areas and limiting the amount of time one could visit.
Many foreign countries that depend on the revenue from the tourism industry were at a crossroads in upholding their economy or their way of life.
Then in a matter of months, everything swung to other end of the pendulum when COVID hit.
In New York City, it used to be you had to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or face a hefty $2,000 fine.
But now Governor Cuomo has increased the insanity by also requiring not one but two negative coronavirus tests before you can “go about your business,” reports ABC News.
This unrealistic requirement has deterred many tourists – along with their wallets.
And while major states like New York – with a wealth of avenues for income – may be able to withstand a hit in tourism, other areas of the travel industry are not faring as well.
Rarotonga in the Cook Islands has completely closed off their borders due to the pandemic and by doing so have cut off their primary source of income, leaving many families in financial ruin.
But the cruise line industry has arguably been hit the hardest after faithful passengers lost trust in the all-inclusive excursions when dozens had to quarantine because of infected passengers.
Barcelona was hoping to see an end to their economic nightmare – where international tourism had dropped by 77% in September – but with rising cases of COVID-19 being reported in the region once again, that seems unlikely.
And Barcelona’s current tourism tax, originally designed to curb the unmanageable influx in tourists, now serves as just another deterrent for tourists to visit the unrecognizable ghost town.
As Tony Johnston, who is the head of tourism at Althone Institute of Technology in Ireland, tells CNN, “The [tourism] industry is an industry which has traditionally relied on very stable and very predictable models of growth.”
He adds, “And that’s just been completely removed.”
Viruses are unpredictable, so basing your travel plans around the trajectory of one makes the travel industry extremely unpredictable.
But something we know for sure is that the call to visit beautiful far-off places is stronger than ever, and eventually tourists will find a way to check them off their bucket list.
Johnston gives the weary traveler hope and says the tourism industry is “very volatile, but very, very resilient, and very adaptable.”