June 21, 2024

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In the United States, Thailand and New Zealand, what about resuming tourism in the midst of an epidemic?

Local tourists take advantage of the absence of foreign tourists on a beach in the Thai island of Ko Hong in November 2020 (MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)

How to restart the tourism sector in the summer of 2021, which is still marked by epidemics? In the United States, Thailand and New Zealand, the sudden end of mass tourism in 2020 has provided an opportunity for discussion and reflection on the number and type of travelers each would welcome in the future. But the priority is to return as soon as possible with tourists, as is the case with the islands in the United States.

In Florida, the controversial arrival of cruisers

In the United States, the epidemic acted as an electric shock, especially in the Keys, a tropical archipelago connected to Florida. By 2020, its population was trying to limit the number of liners that could stand there. It is reminiscent of the case of Venice, Italy.

In Key West, 25,000 people, this archipelago coastal resort, 1,200,000 cruise passengers landed in 2019! This is often the case with giant ships Damage to coral, One of the treasures of the keys. After a few months without tourists, in the spring of 2020, locals took advantage of the opportunity to vote in a referendum to control the number of daily tourists, and to ban large and polluting boats.

Residents noted that the economic downturn promised to the archipelago by the shipping industry during the fall had not been fulfilled. But since then, the economy has restarted and the liners will be back at the docks in Keys. The governor of Florida, the rising star of the Republican Party, has signed a law repealing the local vote and banning any attempt to impose such restrictions on maritime tourism.

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Other indicators show a return to pre-epidemic tourism. Frequent arrivals of domestic flights in the United States have almost returned to normal and international bookings are expected. United Airlines has also purchased 270 aircraft. This is the largest order in its history.

In Thailand, target fewer tourists

Thailand received 40 million tourists a year before the epidemic. The country has completely closed its borders for 15 months. This decision not only led to a major economic crisis in the tourism sector, but also as an opportunity for the ecosystem to breathe and raise awareness.

Turtles are returning to lay their eggs on Phuket Beach, and fish species that have been missing from the coast for decades are reappearing, which makes Thais think twice. Environmental activists are trying to rush to the breach-opened breach to protect certain areas and reduce the number of boats.

But awareness is not just about the environment. It is economic, even cultural. A reflection began on the over-reliance on international tourism. Thais is beginning to reclaim some of the places, such as temples, beaches, and neighborhoods that were seized by mass tourism. There is a form of national pride, which is found in political discourse, in relying too much on the Thai market.

The country wants to get fewer tourists who spend more money in less time and different “quality” tourists. Thailand has built its success on budget travelers and party tourism, nightlife entertainment and sometimes prostitution. Many Thais don’t like it anymore. Red light districts have been vacated by their populations since 2020. In the south of the country, in the name of economic recovery, locals are fighting to get it started again, with thousands of spectators flocking to the beach for moonlighting parties.

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In Auckland, reviving this sector is a priority

In New Zealand, borders have been closed to other parts of the world since the outbreak began. The country took advantage of this forced break to think about another eco-tourism. In an initial statement, a government executive committee makes recommendations in this regard. Among other things, he suggests it aims to become the world’s most carbon-neutral tourist destination.

To achieve this, he proposes to invest in clean fuels for aircraft, electric cars, and plant trees to compensate for emissions emitted by tourists. It is proposed to eliminate seasonal peaks and better highlight its culture and its heritage by expanding tourist arrivals throughout the year and integrating the Mori community in the industry (which represents 15% of the population). .

But the working group that edited the report was disbanded by the Ministry of Tourism, justifying the fact that the Kovit-19 epidemic lasted longer than expected and that an urgent need to come to the aid of a tourism department at this time. Bad form. Save it before replacing it.

However, not all of the recommendations were ruled out. Tourism Minister Stuart Nash wants to create a kind of hotel line for the most common wildlife camp trainees in New Zealand.