Tourist sites empty as Covid-19 travel restrictions limit travel

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With no American visitors to visit on the D-Day landing beaches or in the Loire Valley castles, and no work on the immediate horizon, Parisian tourist guide Linda Zenou is worried about how she will repay a ready and will continue to care for her sick mother in the painfully lean months to come.

“My situation is going to become completely entangled,” she said. “We have nothing to live on.”

For a growing number of businesses and individuals who depend on the global tourism industry, the question is not so much when the coronavirus pandemic will end but how and if they will survive until business picks up. . In trying to fend off the virus, countries erecting barriers to entry for tourists have done so at increasing cost to themselves and others.

“Now is the survival of the fittest,” said Johann Krige, CEO of Kanonkop Winery in South Africa, where the drying up of wine tourists threatens dozens of wine farms around the historic town of Stellenbosch, near from Cape Town.

“A lot of them are going to go bankrupt because they just don’t have enough cash,” Krige said.

Around the world, travel in the midst of the pandemic is becoming a story of timid steps forward in some places, but punitive setbacks elsewhere, of ‘yes’ to letting visitors return to places a little better against COVID-19 but no others where outbreaks are flaring.

The result is a global mishmash of ever-changing restrictions and quarantines, which offer no long-term visibility to companies trying to make wages and everyone in the industry from trinket vendors to hotels. luxury.

In Australia, the government of Queensland, home to the Great Barrier Reef, has banned visitors from Sydney from Saturday due to a growing epidemic in the country’s largest city. Queensland Tourism Manager Brett Kapernick predicted it could cost some businesses a 40% drop in revenue.

“With this pandemic, the situation is becoming fluid and therefore evolving every week,” Kapernick said. “A week ago we didn’t think we were facing a closed border with Sydney. “

While the Indonesian resort island of Bali tentatively opened to domestic visitors on Friday, Vietnam’s Da Nang beaches were deserted. The city closed on Tuesday to contain a cluster of nearly 100 cases.

Stripped of the lifeblood of tourism, some businesses already seem doomed to failure. Many luxury hotels in the historic center of Rome did not reopen in late spring, when Italy began to allow arrivals from elsewhere in the European Union and other selected countries. At the start of the pandemic, Italians who worked for years as dining room staff, cooks or maids in hotels instead looked for agricultural work, picking fruits and vegetables.

On the Portuguese Algarve coast, individual disasters are also looming for staff in empty hotels, bars and restaurants who are losing hope that tourists will return quickly enough to keep them afloat. In a region almost entirely dependent on tourism, the unemployment rate has already jumped 230%.


And in Oxford, England, tour operator Frederick Laurie clings to British “stay-cationers”, optimistically describing them as “green shoots” in an otherwise bleak year. He concedes their numbers will never make up for the ruinous drop in foreign visitors who once thronged the college town before the coronavirus chased them away.

“It’s an extremely difficult time for us,” he says. His ten-year-old company, Footprints Tours, has seen revenue plummet by 70%.

Global losses run into the billions. Percentage declines in visitor numbers are often double digits. Tourism revenues in South Africa fell 98% in May from the same month last year, according to the Tourism Business Council, and more than half a million jobs in its sector are at risk.

Governments of countries heavily dependent on tourism are trying to use bailouts to keep businesses afloat. The Thai Cabinet this week approved projects worth more than $ 700 million for the tourism industry. Bulgaria is offering tax breaks and employment subsidies to consolidate its tourism sector and prepare for huge workforce reductions of 290,000 people. Hotel owners complain that they have more employees than customers in Bulgaria’s largest resort town, Sunny Beach.

Dozens of Caribbean islands depend on tourism for 20 to 80 percent of their GDP, but hotel occupancy rates in the region are now below 10 percent, officials say. To compensate for the loss of tourism, Barbados is offering a one-year visa for people who wish to temporarily settle on the island and work from home near the beach.

The positives of the global pandemic are few and far between. Among them: locals unable or reluctant to travel are rediscovering attractions where foreign tourists jostled to be elbowed.

The animals have South Africa’s world-famous wildlife parks largely to themselves due to lockdown rules that barred international tourists and barred South Africans from traveling between provinces on vacations. At Kruger National Park, lions sleep peacefully on the roads and roam around empty lodges, while elephants meander at their leisure.


At the Louvre museum in Paris, it is now possible to calmly contemplate the works. It’s a rare treat for Parisians but a nightmare for tour guides, who gathered again this week to protest, dressed in black and wearing masks, to demand more financial aid. Among them, Janice Baneux, decidedly pessimistic about their future.

“Some people have had to sell their homes, go back to their parents and wait until next year when tourism is likely to return,” she said. “But this year there is no hope.”

(PA)



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