Do you end every Zoom ‘party’ dreaming of champagne on the Seine? Or take yet another stroll around the local park whilst deep in your gorilla-tracking-in-Uganda-fantasy? Or maybe you just long to dip your toes in the sea on a sunny day without the threat of hypothermia.
For many of us, that overpriced 5 am airport tipple seems like a half-forgotten dream. With the recent positive vaccine news, however, the idea of a faraway adventure in 2021 is seeming less fantastical by the day.
When the happy day arrives, it might be worth considering visiting the countries that would benefit your tourism the most. The impact that COVID-19 has had on tourism globally is truly devastating. Although the economies and communities that would benefit from your visit after the pandemic are far too numerous to list, a few are highlighted here to get you started on your planning.
It is worth keeping in mind that the seemingly obvious destinations may not be the best choices. Some Southeast Asian countries and island communities are using the downtime to allow for restoration and recovery following decades of over-tourism. Many Western countries have suffered a far greater economic blow as a result of COVID-19 than their developing world cousins. Domestic tourism campaigns have been much more successful in some regions than others. The situation is complicated. Help out and do your research before you buy that ticket.
The inbound tourism industry in Sri Lanka suffered a revenue loss of $1.5 billion in 2019. This was the result of the devastating Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in the capital city, Colombo. Everything was in line for a speedy recovery, with Sri Lanka included in multiple ‘places to visit in 2020’ end of year travel publication lists. And then along came the pandemic, decimating tourism revenue once again, from national airlines to local street sellers.
Sri Lanka is a heavenly mix of incredible wildlife, postcard-perfect beaches, famous tea plantations, wondrous ruins and so much more. This Indian Ocean Island has lots to offer in turn for a place at the top of your 2021 travel list.
Remember the bush fires that tore through Australia at the beginning of the year? Yes, unbelievably, that was this year. The many concerns at the time included how this devastating event would affect Australia’s lucrative inbound tourism industry. The fires, compounded by the pandemic that made itself apparent just a few weeks later, left the industry reeling. According to Statistica, tourism contributed to 10.8% of Australia’s GDP in 2019, one of the highest in the world.
The idea of taking an epic Australia adventure from Europe often ends up on the bucket list pile. This is usually due to the expense and annual leave required for travelling such a distance. With a year of additional holiday savings in the piggy bank and all of that accrued annual leave, 2021 might finally be the year to take that trip and help our friends down under.
If you would prefer your first venture post-travel hiatus to be a little easier on the jet lag, consider a holiday to Spain. In 2019, tourism contributed to 14.3% of Spain’s GDP. With one of the highest infection rates in Europe, the entire economy has suffered under the weight of the pandemic.
Tourists will often associate a Spanish holiday with a week relaxing on a sun-kissed beach on the shores of the Canary Islands. However, if beach holidays are not your thing, you definitely won’t find yourself wanting on a Spanish jaunt. Explore gothic cathedrals, cosmopolitan cities, exquisite vineyards and UNESCO protected nature reserves, all whilst embracing the varied and delicious regional gourmet served with a generous helping of local hospitality.
With 15.5% of GDP attributed to tourism in 2019, the highest of any the world’s largest economies, the impact of COVID-19 on the Mexican tourism industry has been significant. Borders, for the most part, have remained open. Nevertheless, given that Mexico has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the world, understandably inbound tourism has been stifled.
Much like Spain, Mexico is generally the go-to for travellers seeking quality beach time. If you would rather use your newfound travel freedom to dig a little deeper, you’ll find that Mexico is also home to an incredible cultural history, vibrant wildlife and world-class cuisine.
One of the hardest COVID-19 hit European countries, Italy will be expected to have lost something in the region of €36.7 billion from the decline in inbound tourism in 2020, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). This equates to a shortfall in the Italian economy of €100 million a day.
A muse for millennia for poets, writers and artists, the charm and romance of the former seat of the Roman Empire will be there waiting for us long after the current pandemic is confined to the history books. However, Italy’s longstanding appeal has proven its downfall in a world without travel. Foodies, culture vultures, sun worshipers and explorers alike may just find everything they have been missing in 2020 by choosing Italy for their inaugural post-pandemic adventure.