The arrival of Coronavirus has brought many changes, and one of the industries that has undergone the most transition is tourism. When something changes so dramatically, it’s only natural to be concerned. Since the Covid-19 crisis hit a few months ago, questions have multiplied at an epidemic rate: When will we travel again? What businesses will survive? What will tourism be like in a post-Covid world?
Many questions, and very few answers I’m afraid. That’s what a crisis is like and it’s better to make peace with the uncertainty amidst the storm than to lose perspective of what’s important. The WTO sums it up in a chilling sentence: “The only thing we know for sure about this crisis, is that we don’t know when it will end.”
But that doesn’t mean that all is lost, quite the contrary, crises leave us great lessons and opportunities. Today, we are faced with the compulsory opportunity – which has been necessary for quite some time – to learn how to make tourism better.
The Great Confinement has meant so much for humanity, it has been a lesson in life, patience, uncertainty, and helplessness. During this crisis, the world’s priorities and values have shifted. Many studies show that tourism is the industry that has suffered the biggest decline in terms of financial worth. It may be so today, but in perspective, we may earn much more than other industries, because when the conditions allow for travel to resume, people will appreciate the true value of good tourism.
Confinement has allowed us to analyze and reflect on the future direction of tourism. We aren’t sure about much, but we have reason to believe that tourists who are keen travelers and are in search of resilience, need to reconnect with life and are heading for something that Yucatán has been building on for some time now: sustainability. This is anchored in authentic travel experiences and responsible, inclusive tourism practices that aim at preserving and regenerating our cultural and natural heritage. All these traits make our state one of a kind. In this sense, Yucatán might be one of the wealthiest regions on earth.
Today, good tourism has unprecedented value. Sustainable tourism, that provides authentic and personalized experiences, that touches your soul deeply, tourism that is careful and respectful, organic, healthy, and homemade – a real back to basics.
I have been asked in many forums: What is the future of tourism in Yucatán? And after much thought, I am convinced, now more than ever, that the future of tourism is in our past. And I’m certainly not referring to the past of all-inclusive mass tourism (or as I like to call it, non-inclusive), that so many destinations were built on. I’m talking about the past that makes us unique, the origin of our identity and our roots.
Yucatán, let’s not take it for granted. It’s the origin of the world as we know it. This is where it all began, where the circle of life manifests itself on a daily basis in estuaries full of flamingos, in cenotes, in turtles hatching on our beaches, in Maya language, in our diverse traditions and cultural expressions. We have a wealth that can’t be measured by stock shares or occupancy rates; it’s so much deeper and significant. So in answering the question, and certain that we will get through this moment with newfound strength, I am convinced that we need only to look to our past to chart a better future.
Editorial by Michelle Fridman Hirsch
Secretariat of Tourism of the State of Yucatán (SEFOTUR)
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Nora Garrett for use in Yucatán Today
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