Publications: Tourism and COVID-19

Blue tourism in islands and small tourism-dependent coastal states: Tools and recovery strategies (2022)
World Bank

Small island developing states and small tourism-Screenshot 2023-01-16 at 08.46.02dependent coastal states have been the most gravely impacted by global climate and Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic crises and are expected to face even greater economic and social challenges in the years to come. While information and research on sustainable and blue tourism in small island developing states (SIDS) does exist, it is hard to find, difficult to analyze, and challenging to turn into policy guidance. This guidance note is a synthesis of findings from a literature review of the inventory of blue tourism resources, consumer market research, and tourism trend monitoring undertaken by the World Bank global tourism team since the start of COVID-19.

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Opportunities for transforming coastal and marine tourism: Towards sustainability, regeneration and resilience (2022)
High level panel for a sustainable ocean economy

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The natural resources that draw tourists to coastal and marine zones underpin the economies of most small island developing states and coastal destinations and provide myriad contributions to economic growth and human wellbeing. Yet, the health and beauty of these ecosystems – the very thing that draws people to coastal and marine destinations continues to be threatened by tourism itself. While the inherent balancing act of nature-based tourism has always been apparent, the unprecedented pause in global tourism induced by the pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to reassess and reset.

This special report outlines an approach for sustainable coastal and marine tourism that increases the focus on regeneration and resilience. It contains inspiring examples of destinations and individual businesses shifting towards a more sustainable approach that helps to restore the local environment on which it depends, supports local economic prosperity, and protects and even revitalises local traditional and heritage.

Transforming tourism in the Pan-European region for a resilient and sustainable post-COVID world (2022)

Screenshot 2022-05-05 at 13.30.45The world is facing a triple planetary crisis relating to the climate, pollution and nature, and it is becoming increasingly important for all tourism players to shift towards more sustainable and circular business models. However, governments and private tourism investors have not systematically prioritized the environment and social sustainability in their decision-making in the past.

In June and July 2021, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) conducted a survey to understand the impacts of the COVID- 19 pandemic on the tourism sector in the pan- European Region, which received 135 responses from people representing governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), tourism businesses, associations and research institutions in 35 countries. Participants also submitted examples and illustrations of impacts.

This report aims to describe the changes brought to the tourism sector by the pandemic, as well as opportunities, challenges and recommended measures for mainstreaming sustainable tourism. It first outlines the pre-pandemic environmental context of tourism and then reviews the implications of COVID19 for mainstreaming sustainability in tourism, and adequate financing responses. The report focuses on impacts on the environment, climate, waste and water linked to changes in tourism, and recommends 10 policy measures for the next decade to transform tourism

Virtual protected area experiences in Africa: Status and potential for post-COVID-19 resilience (2022)
Anna Spenceley 

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Virtual tours set up by protected areas and nature-based operators have received considerable traction and interest globally. The World Bank’s Global Wildlife Program’s annual conference in December 2020 identified the need to use digital mediums to advertise tourism while travel restrictions are in place. Indeed, there appears to be considerable growth in the virtual touring space. WildEarth, for example, experienced a fivefold increase in viewers of its virtual safaris in the first two weeks of March 2020, at the start of the pandemic and travel restrictions. While some virtual tours are free for users, others are fee-based and could help offset losses in visitor revenue. Such tours provide a way for people to experience natural attractions from their homes while inspiring future travel plans once restrictions are lifted. The purpose of this paper is to review virtual tours and experiences as a proxy for travel while physical travel is challenged. This rapid review considers the current status of virtual tours for African protected areas, and their potential as a mechanism to (1) sustain interest and promotional presence online; (2) provide interactive engaging experience with past and future visitors; (3) consider whether they can reduce the physical impact of people on nature; (4) reflect on barriers constraining entry; and (5) generate revenue for conservation and livelihoods while travel restrictions remain in place.

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 Demand for sustainable travel: What travellers can do to help build back better from COVID-19 (2021)
Anna Spenceley 
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The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated international travel. Hopefully though, it has also given us time to reconsider how we travel and the opportunity to evaluate how we might rebuild tourism in a more sustainable and equitable way.

As tourism (hopefully) re-opens, some exciting trends in market research show the changing priorities for potential post- pandemic travellers. These often include health, hygiene and social-distancing measures, sustainable tourism, social wellbeing, benefiting local economies, adventure and trips to natural destinations.

Luckily for those involved in ecotourism, wildlife safaris and nature-based experiences provide for all of these.

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COVID-19: Devastating impacts, inspiring recovery (2021)
Anna Spenceley 

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COVID-19 and protected area tourism: A spotlight on impacts and options in Latin America (2021)
Anna Spenceley 

LA cover 2021-10-15 at 11.40.43 amThis paper describes the impact of COVID-19 on wildlife tourism in protected areas, considering implications for protected areas, the tourism sector, and local communities. As part of a broader EU study on the ‘Wildlife economy: sustainable tourism in protected areas’, the paper shares the results of research from tourism stakeholders globally, combined with recent market intelligence on the impacts of the pandemic in Latin America. A sister analysis has also been undertaken for Africa, and comparisons are shared in this paper.


COVID-19 and protected area tourism: A spotlight on impacts and options in Africa (2021)

Anna Spenceley 

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The world was rocked in 2020 by a global pandemic arising from a new coronavirus. The virus, thought to have transferred to humans from a wildlife species, raised awareness of the links between wildlife exploitation, trade and zoonotic disease transfer. This paper describes the impact of COVID-19 on wildlife tourism in protected areas, considering implications for the tourism sector and local communities. The paper shares the results of new research from tourism stakeholders globally, combined with recent market intelligence on the impacts of the pandemic. It confirms the importance of protected areas for sustainable tourism as a present and future pillar of the African economy.

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Tourism and visitation to protected areas amid COVID-19: Guidance for protected area authorities and managers (2021)
Anna Spenceley 

Cover open parksTourism is an essential contributor to protected area revenues, conservation finances, and to local livelihoods.

As people emerge from the psychological and physical effects of lockdowns, market intelligence indicates that they are likely to seek out recreation and relaxation in outdoor spaces – particularly in their home countries. The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and emergence of Travel Passports provide hope that protected area visits and travel will resume. Managers of protected areas that usually have visitors are under pressure to provide facilities safely, but there are challenges to doing so given rapidly changing conditions and new health and safety requirements.

The purpose of this document is to provide pragmatic guidance to protected area managers and authorities on operating tourism safely amid the COVID-19 crisis. Suggestions are provided, accompanied by supplementary links to sources and further information.

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COVID-19 and conservation: Crisis response strategies that benefit people and Nature (2021)
Ina Hehmann, Jean Carlo Rodriquez, Anna Spenceley 

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The COVID-19 pandemic is a global human health crisis that is deeply intertwined with the global biodiversity crisis. It originated when a zoonotic virus spilled over from wild animals to humans. Viruses can spread easily in disturbed ecosystems, and with increasing contact between humans and wildlife the risk of contagion grows. Conservation is crucial to reduce the risks of future pandemics, but the current pandemic also impacts on conservation in many ways.

In this Briefing Paper we suggest strategies to alleviate the pandemic’s adverse effects on conservation in the Global South. Many zoonoses originate there, and livelihoods are strongly dependent on natural resources. The paper considers the pandemic’s overarching economic implications for protected and other conserved areas, and specific ramifications for the tourism and wildlife trade sectors, which are closely related to these areas.

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The future of nature-based tourism: Impacts of COVID-19 and paths to sustainability (2021)
Anna Spenceley 

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COVID-19 has led to an abrupt halt in nature-based tourism around the world, marked by travel restrictions, lockdowns and closures of protected areas. Unfortunately, when tourism stops, so too do the benefits of conservation, both for wildlife and local communities alike.

A new report by the Luc Hoffmann Institute – The Future of Nature-Based Tourism: Impacts of COVID-19 and paths to sustainability – outlines the challenges facing the nature-based tourism sector and offers recommendations for future resilience and sustainability.

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Tourism in protected areas amid the COVID-19 pandemic (2021)

Anna Spenceley, Steve McCool, David Newsome, Ana Báez, James R. Barborak, Clara-Jane Blye, Kelly Bricker, Hery Sigit Cahyadi, Katherine Corrigan, Elizabeth Halpenny, Glen Hvenegaard, Delphine Malleret King, Yu-Fai Leung, Ante Mandić, Robin Naidoo, Dominik Rüede, James Sano, Mahmoud Sarhan, Veronica Santamaria, Thiago Beraldo Sousa and Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner

screenshot-tourism-parksThe COVID-19 pandemic has had a global impact on the tourism sector. With tourism numbers dramatically reduced, millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. Widespread reports of dramatic changes to protected and conserved area visitation have negative consequences for conservation finances, tourism businesses and the livelihoods of people who supply labour, goods and services to tourists and tourism businesses. This paper aims to share experiences from around the world on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on protected area tourism; and considers how to build resilience within protected area tourism as a regenerative conservation tool.

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Sustainable recovery of tourism in protected areas form the COVID-19 pandemic (2021)
Anna Spenceley, Ana Baez, James R. Barborak, Clara-Jane Blye, Kelly Bricker, Hery Cahyadi, Katherine Corrigan, Elizabeth Halpenny, Glen Hvenegaard, Delphine King, Yu-Fai Leung, Ante Mandic, Steve McCool, Robin Naidoo, David Newsome, Dominik Rüede, James Sano, Mahmoud Sarhan, Veronica Santamaria, Thiago Beraldo Sousa, and Anne-Kathrin Zschiegner


In their guest post for Transforming One Planet Vision into Action, the authors share their reflections on working towards a responsible recovery from COVID-19 for the tourism sector

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Building sustainable finance for resilient protected and conserved areas: lessons from COVID-19 (2021)

Tracey Cumming, Andrew Seidl, Lucy Emerton, Anna Spenceley, Rachel Golden Kroner, Yvette Uwineza and Hugo van Zyl

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There is widespread concern that funding for protected and conserved areas (PCAs) will decline substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic outcomes. This paper makes the case that the impacts of the global crisis do not in themselves introduce novel financial threats to PCAs; rather, they serve to magnify, intensify and exacerbate existing structural and systemic financial constraints and weaknesses. To respond appropriately, it is therefore important to understand the status of PCA finance before COVID-19, and to address the underlying barriers and constraints to PCA financial sustainability. Based on known PCA finance challenges, and predicted effects from COVID-19, the authors present nine overarching recommendations for building a sustainable finance base for PCAs: diversify the funding base; improve spending effectiveness and efficiency; ensure domestic budgets continue to support PCAs; increase international development finance and philanthropy; strengthen revenue generation from tourism; support PCAs governed by Indigenous peoples, local communities and private actors; include local communities in PCA governance and benefits; engage the finance sector and attract private capital; and raise public support and interest in nature conservation and PCAs. Specific activities and tools are provided to support each of these recommendations, whilst respecting the current global context.

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A review of COVID-19 & Travel: Impacts, Responses and Outcomes (2021)
Anna Spenceley 

In COVID-19 and Travel: impacts, responses and outcomes Hudson considers how the crisis unfolded; its effects on the industry and travellers; and its economic, social and environmental impacts. He explains how we adapted and communicated under the pandemic, and ponders what is in store for the tourism sector in future. The book can be purchased in its entirety, or in individual chapters.

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Editorial Essay: COVID-19 and protected and conserved areas (2020)

Marc Hockings, Nigel, Dudley, Wendy Elliott, Mariana Napolitano Ferriera, Kathy MacKinnon, Khalid Pasha, Adrian Phillips, Sue Stolton, Stephen Woodley, Mike Appleton, Olivier Chassot, James Fitzsimons,, Chris Galliers, John Goodrich, Mike Hoffman, Jo Hopkins, William Jackson, Harry Jonas, Rachel Golden Kroner, Barney Long, Musonda Mumba, Jeffery Parrish, Midori Paxton, Carol Phua, Raina Plowright, Madhu Rao, Kent Redford, John Robinson, Anna Spenceley, Candice Stevens28, Gary Tabor, Sebastian Troeng, Sean Willmore and Angela Yang

parks-coverThe COVID-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on the global community; on people’s lives and health, livelihoods, economies, and behaviours. Most zoonotic disease pandemics, including COVID-19, arise from the unsustainable exploitation of nature. This special editorial provides a snapshot of how protected and conserved areas around the world are being impacted by COVID-19. For many protected and conserved areas, negative impacts on management capacity, budgets and effectiveness are significant, as are impacts on the livelihoods of communities living in and around these areas. We provide a commentary on how effectively and equitably managed systems of protected and conserved areas can be part of a response to the pandemic that both lessens the chance of a recurrence of similar events and builds a more sustainable future for people and nature. We conclude the editorial with a Call for Action for the rescue, recovery, rebuilding and expansion of the global network of protected and conserved areas.

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COVID-19 and tourism in Africa’s protected areas: Impacts and recovery needs (2020)

Anna Spenceley 

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COVID-19 has led to a steep decline in business for operators in protected areas, coupled with a substantial drop in future booking requests. The most important support tourism operators require is unemployment support for workers, financial support for recovery and cashflow, coupled with tax deductions or deferments.

Preliminary data suggests that there will be a 43% decline in expenditure on local products, services and donations this FY compared to last year, and if the crisis continues, three quarters of local employees will be affected with reduced wages/leave without pay/made redundant/unemployed (nearly 14,000 local employees for this sample).

Expenditure on environmental services (e.g. for security, anti-poaching, park or concession fees etc.) is predicted to decline by US$20.7 million in spending in the current FY for the sample. There are concerns that this will lead to an increase in illegal wildlife crime.

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COVID-19 and sustainable tourism: Information resources and links (2020-2021)

Anna Spenceley 

Coronavirus imageIt seems that everyone involved in the travel sector has been affected by the coronavirus COVID 19 pandemic.  There are an increasing number of interesting studies and articles and think-pieces that have been published on this topic.  Some of these share information on the impacts of our dramatically changed travel patterns on industry and destinations, some include suggestions of proactive approaches, and some provide market insights.

This is an evolving database of over 1200 resources which quick-links to people looking for insights and ideas, and has benefited from the contributions from many people.  I hope the list helps as we try to understand the implications of this massive global challenge, and move towards a better future.

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