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THE PRE-PANDEMICWORLD OF TOURISM HEAT MAP OF COUNTRIES BY TRAVEL AND TOURISM CONTRIBUTION TO GDP, 2019


Source: World Travel & Tourism Council


stamp’ visa—a one-year residency permit that allows foreignemployees to live in andwork fromthe country remotely. Elsewhere, in the same month,


Fiji launched a ‘blue lanes’ initiative that allowed yachts to berthin its marinas aftermeeting strict quaran- tine and testing requirements, a move the government called “a first step towards economic recovery”. The country is currentlywaiting to see if a Pacific corridor can be established between Australia and NewZealand and the Pacific islands. In Europe,Mediterranean coun-


tries forwhomtourismis amajor sec- tor, suchas Greece, Turkey and Portugal, are on tenterhooks as to whether theEU’s “DigitalCovid Certificate” will provide their econo- mies with amuch-needed boost. Tourism accounts for 20.3% of Greece’s economyas of 2019 and according to Reuters, the Greek cen- tral bank estimates a quarter of loans to the sector are nownon-performing.


Pushfor diversification Confronted withtheirownvulnera- bility,many countries have pushed ahead withdiversification schemes. Barbados, for example, plans to set up a special economic zone (SEZ) (see page 56). TheMaldives, which relies on


tourism for foreign exchange receipts for imports and where tourist arrivals fell 67.4% in 2020, is also stepping up its diversificationproposition.“We’re


June/July 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com


currentlyworking on economic diver- sification throughexpanding the fisheries and agricultural sectors, establishing a decentralised network to provide public services,” president IbrahimMohamed Solih toldCNBC in a recent interview. Whentourism eventually takes


off again, it is unlikely to be business as usual. Expectations are for greater horizontal integration with other sec- tors, such as agriculture, aquaculture and wellness. For instance, the VanuatuDepartment of Tourismhas partnered with Planet Happiness to measure its residents’ happiness and wellbeing in a bid to “promote a tour- ism industry that is ethical, inclusive, cares for all our people, regenerates and protects our environment, cus- tomsand culture”. The IMF reports that post-pan-


demic there will be “a continuing shift toward ecotourism—a fast-grow- ing industry focused on conservation and local job creation”. It predicts this could give an additional boost to the industry, citing Thailand’s attempts to shift to nichemarkets suchas adventure travel and health and wellness tours. Timewill tell inwhat formtour-


ism returns and howcomfortable people feel travelling—but ahead of the unpredictability of the climate crisis, the need for structural reform and foreign investment in island economies with fewnatural resources andheavy debt burdens has never been clearer.■


83


INTERNATIONAL TOURIST ARRIVALS FELL BY 73% IN 2020, ACCORDING TO THEWORLD TOURISM ORGANISATION


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