The World Today for August 09, 2021



Hunting Equilibrium

Italian officials recently banned massive cruise ships from the fabled lagoon of the City of Canals. The ships’ hastened erosion and polluted the ancient lagoon’s sensitive ecosystem, said critics who welcomed the move.

Others worried that the absence of the floating behemoths would be another body blow to the tourism industry that is central to Venice’s fortunes, Radio France Internationale reported. Without docks unloading tourists at Saint Mark’s Square, they claimed, the city will see an eventual 50 percent reduction in visitors – the average was 1.5 million annually before the pandemic.

Venice’s experience is one of many stories about how Europe is struggling to revive the continent’s vital tourism industry after the pandemic while also addressing the environmental and social impacts of tourism that have become more obvious after global tourism largely shut down in 2020.

In Calanques National Park in France, officials are seeking to reduce attendance after a year where prohibitions on foreign travel didn’t stop French visitors from pouring into the park amid city lockdowns. The land needs time to recover, they argued. “The park’s caretakers say the burgeoning crowds, on the beaches and in the water, threaten the site’s sensitive biological equilibrium,” wrote the Washington Post.

Greek conservationists were happy, for example, to see that fewer tourists stayed on the beautiful Mediterranean island of Zakynthos during the pandemic. The peace and quiet helped a new generation of loggerhead sea turtles, an endangered species, grow and develop, the Guardian reported. Humans’ impact on the beaches where the turtles dwell kept them from optimally reproducing.

The pause in tourism was a blessing and curse, the New York Times concluded. Fewer flights and congested highways meant cleaner air. Wildlife could move unmolested. Noise pollution plummeted. But many countries also pay for the enforcement of conservation and wildlife rules. Accordingly, illegal logging, poaching and other bad practices increased during the pandemic. Foreign Policy magazine explored the illegal wildlife trade during the pandemic, saying that endangered wildlife was “paying the price” of Covid-19, for instance.

The delta variant of Covid-19 is already causing officials to enact complex social distancing and testing measures that are making tourism within Europe difficult, harming a major economic driver, as CNBC explained. The rules are complicated enough for Serbia to exploit them to create a cottage industry. The Balkan country provides space for Indian tourists to quarantine for two weeks, per European laws, before they move on to other destinations, Reuters noted.

Humans will find ways to survive. The question is how sustainably they can do it.

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