The travel and tourism industry is where my professional life developed and I keep up with the trends and effects developing during to the Covid-19 pandemic. Yesterday, I read about thousands of employees about to be laid off by Disney, both in Florida and California. Communities that depend solely in tourism are struggling much more than we can bear, such as what is described in this article published by the Washington Post. The situation these people live in is nothing new; the pandemic simply exacerbated conditions that continue to spiral into unchartered territory for America. The 2017 film; The Florida Project touched on this subject and is available for streaming on Netflix.
The irony is that places as magical as the Magic Kingdoms of Disney, are found amidst dismal, magicless scenarios that tourists avoid. Nobody wants to see homelessness, addiction and poverty, and no tourism office will ever portray or inform about such places. That is the magic of travel; we get to pick what we see! We get to stay in our bubble unbothered by petty realities. If anybody reading this story thinks that our government and its elected officials are responsible to fix this I suggest you rethink this idea. It is comforting to think they can, so we don’t have to bother with these unfortunate social inconveniences.
Fortunately and as with everything, there is a good side, and many folks travel to make our nation and the world a better place. They choose to travel to see the world as it is and not as a utopia. The beauty of tourism is that we pick and choose what we see and experience but some places, like the ones in the WP story, are too dangerous to visit. The alternative is visiting a local church or non-profit organization and donate some of the money we had set aside for the more frivolous trip expenses.
Another great opportunity traveling bestows is what is known as staycations; vacations near home. This pandemic has positively impacted smaller towns for people are not commuting to bigger cities as much as before and opting to shop and dine closer to home. Every town offers something to discover including nature trails, museums, and non-profit organizations. Do we know how fellow citizens are coping with unemployment and poverty?
The pandemic provides an opportunity to rethink travel and social responsibility. Electing officials who are going to support social programs is great, but it is up to us to step up and make a difference. It is time to pick and choose experiencing magical and not so magical places.