Tag: collapse

After the Pandemic’s Travel Collapse, Biden Should Build Tourism Back Better

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s ambitious goals include strengthening the country’s middle class, making the environment a top priority across the government, and building the economy back better after so many livelihoods have been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.

A revitalized national tourism policy could be a big part of the solution for all three issues. To get an idea how that could work, take a look at Key West, an island off the southern tip of Florida.

On Nov. 3, when the world’s eyes were fixed on the U.S. presidential election, the voters of Key West passed three landmark measures to dramatically reduce cruise ship traffic docking in their small, historic town. A citizen-led movement successfully argued that years of unregulated big-cruise tourism had taken too great a toll on the environment, public health, local businesses, and the town’s very way of life. By margins as large as 81 percent, the island city voted to reduce the number of ships allowed to dock, ban the largest cruise ships outright, and require clean environmental records of the smaller vessels that will still be allowed to visit the island. Voters were opting for an end to frenzied crowds and polluted water, and in favor of something closer to sustainable or ecotourism. Both the locals and their visitors will be better off this way.

But this vote was about far more than one town’s battle against cruise ships. It’s part of a backlash following many years of government neglect during a phase of relentless growth of tourism. It’s become a truism that modern overtourism has not only overrun, disfigured, and polluted places such as Key West, Barcelona, and Venice, but also spoiled destinations and ruined vacations for many travelers as well.

In the era before the pandemic, the $8 trillion global tourism industry was celebrated for underpinning economies around the world, including that of the United States, where the money spent by foreign visitors accounts for 11 percent of export earnings. (Because the money technically comes in from abroad, spending by visitors is booked as exports.) Those numbers mask the furor at the unacknowledged damage tourism was doing to local life, the environment, and visitors’ ability to appreciate the places they were visiting.

It took the pandemic to bring the issue to a head. The tsunami-like spread of the coronavirus brought the global travel industry to an abrupt halt. The world went from too much tourism to no tourism at all. Lockdowns meant that no one moved, neither across international borders nor even across town. Overnight, we all discovered the contradictory powers of the travel and tourism industry.

In real time, Americans saw how travel and tourism is the $1.6-trillion glue holding much of the U.S. economy together. Yet they also saw how it is a formidable environmental threat that pollutes their air and water and contributes to the climate crisis.

Without tourism, seemingly solid industries such as airlines, hotels, restaurants, and department stores tanked—the list is almost endless. Every U.S. state suffered,

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Nearly 200 airports in UK and Europe could go bust due to collapse in air travel

Nearly 200 airports across the UK and Europe are at risk of going bust within months due to the dramatic collapse in air travel caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the European airports trade body warned on Tuesday.

a man holding a sign: Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe), which represents airport operators, said it estimated that 193 out of Europe’s 740 commercial airports face “insolvency in the coming months if passenger traffic does not start to recover by the year-end”.

The trade body said the at risk airports employ 277,000 people and generate collective annual revenues of €12.4bn (£11.2bn).

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said the figures “paint a dramatically bleak picture” for the future of the aviation industry, which has already suffered tens of thousands of job losses.

“Eight months into the crisis, all of Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs,” Jankovec said. “Governments’ current imposition of quarantines rather than testing is bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink with every day that passes.”

a man holding a sign: The CAA is reported to have warned Heathrow’s owners that it could be nationalised if it doesn’t get new funds.

© Photograph: Kirsty O’Connor/PA
The CAA is reported to have warned Heathrow’s owners that it could be nationalised if it doesn’t get new funds.

“In the midst of a second wave, ensuring safe air travel continues to be our primary concern. It’s crucial that we reduce the risks of importation and dissemination as much as possible. But surely we can do a much better job of reducing those risks by testing air passengers rather than with quarantines that cannot be enforced.”

A spokeswoman for ACI Europe said the organisation would not name the airports at risk for fear of sparking panic among employees and travellers. However, she said most of the airports at greatest risk were small regional airports, which have seen the sharpest declines in passenger numbers. Airports across mainland Europe and all home nations in the UK are thought to be included on the list.

Passenger numbers at Europe’s airports in September fell by 75% compared to the same month year earlier. ACI Europe said total “lost passengers” since the pandemic began now stands at 1.3 billion.

While smaller airports are most at risk, ACI said “larger European airports and hubs are not immune from the critical financial risk”.

“They have cut costs to the bone and have resorted to the financial markets to shore up balance sheets and build emergency war chests. This sudden increase in debt – an additional €16bn for the top 20 European airports – is equivalent to nearly 60% of their revenues in a normal year. This, along with the fact that these airports had to make thousands of highly skilled workers redundant, clearly jeopardises their future.”

The UK’s aviation regulator is reported to have warned the owners of Heathrow that it could be nationalised if they do not provide fresh funding to help it weather the pandemic.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said that without emergency

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