Featured Image: Love letters to our favourite countries are a way to keep travel inspiration alive / Photo credit: @Pixabay on Pexels.com
The destinations we’ll help rebuild through post-pandemic travel
Curated by Amanda Burgess, Editor
We’ve all been stockpiling future trip ideas in the months we’ve spent as grounded travellers. When travel ramps up again, we face a crisis of conscience: Do we go somewhere we’ve never been or return somewhere we’ve left a piece of ourselves? The pull of the new and as-yet-unexplored by us is strong, but there are the places that call to us again and again. Whichever option wins, there are so many countries around the world that will need tourism to help rebuild post-pandemic.
According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the countries among the world’s largest economies that rely heavily on travel and tourism – Mexico, Spain and Italy – are the most vulnerable to the economic fallout of the pandemic. Travel and tourism respectively contributed 15% (Mexico), 14.3% (Spain), and 13% (Italy) to each country’s GDP last year.
A report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UCTAD) shows that the world’s least developed countries are also highly dependent on tourism, contributing 9.5% on average to each country’s GDP. The report models the direct and indirect effects of the decline in international tourism receipts on the global economy, predicting GDP losses of $3.3 trillion in the worst-case scenario of a 12-month standstill. That’s more than double the size of the international tourism industry alone. Countries hardest hit will be Jamaica (where tourism accounts for 20% of GDP), and Thailand.
What’s more, tourism is a major source of employment globally – particularly for women, who hold 54% of jobs in the sector. Since these women are more likely to be entrepreneurs or hold low-skilled jobs in the sector, they are also more vulnerable to shocks and disruptions. (Source: UCTAD 2020 Report: COVID-19 and Tourism).
We know that women – the key decision-makers in travel – will shape its future. Our choices, our demands, where we put our dollars will influence how the industry rebuilds and reinvents itself. With that in mind, we asked you to write postcards to destinations you fell in love with on your travels. Places that you intend to help rebuild through travel. Read on for a smattering of postcards that read like love letters to cities and countries the world over.
Dear South Africa,
Yes, I loved seeing the wildlife and was blown away by your sheer physical beauty. But what I learned about making progress (however slow and imperfect) on healing from systemic racism; that feeling when I was not in the majority; what I realized was a deep root for much American music and dance brought here by slaves, well, those things reformed my involvement in social justice. I thank you for waking me to my white privilege and economic advantage. I do not take them for granted.
I know you are there, waiting for me. I long to return to your mysterious and wild shores, so full of life and vibrancy. Your chaos and wildness invite me back on another magical journey. I’ve only tasted a slice of your magic, and I know that there is more that awaits me within your beautiful jungles and colourful towns. I want to stay, as long as you will have me, immerse myself in your customs and learn your ways. I know you have deep knowledge to teach me, still. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
Cinque Terre and Tuscany. Where I spent my honeymoon and fell in love with the food, the architecture, the sound of the language and the rhythm of life! I dream of it often…
Denmark, I want to learn to ride bicycles in the streets of Copenhagen, crew a Viking ship in Rosskilde, and listen to tales while drinking mead at Cafe Sejd in Jelling. You enchanted me.
To my beloved, Bali.
I fell in love with you when I first met you in 2012 and have been returning to you each year (except this one) since.
You bring me peace, joy, groundedness and I always feel my best self when I’m there with you. Ubud/Bali, you are definitely my heart and soul home and you are never far from my thoughts.
Can’t wait to return once your doors reopen.
Japan, first visited in 2013, and have been back two times since. Love the mix of the old traditions, and new of the cities. Want to go back to study kimono at a school in Tokyo, and visit tea growing areas for my next visit.
When will I again be able to stroll and hike through your verdant mountains, your lush vineyards, your towering cypresses? When, dear Italy, can I indulge in another cone of gelato?
Each time I catch a glimpse of your Caribbean shores, colorful streets or verdant hills my heart physically aches to return. Together we’ve shared joy and laughter, worry and heartache, endless nights of dancing followed by endless cups of fresh coffee. But the greatest gift you’ve given me is a reconnection to myself, to my hip-shaking, fun-loving, adventure-seeking, magic-believing self. And I can always use a boost.
I miss you and your people. You were the last country I visited before the pandemic hit and I’m so glad that I have those memories to recall now. The only thing more beautiful than your climate is the smiles of your people.
I will return when I can, hopefully soon.
My dearest England and Scotland,
I cannot separate you, for Scotland, you gave me a birth place that calls to me ‘come back’. England gave me a home, so I love you both in equal measure. To England, my second home, and to Scotland, my birth love, I yearn to come back once again and stroll the towns and hillsides, climb the stiles into fields of gold, walk pathways yet unknown to me, and find places I can explore: Moors, hills, forests and highlands filled with heather, hidden gardens and other delights. My nostalgic heart calls to me to place my feet on your soil and feel you creep again into my soul. To fill my heart with the love I feel for you. TO be really home once more. My heritage, my heart waits for your embrace once more.
Di dhuit Éireann,
Ireland. I long to return to sit with friends in the neighbourhood pub and enjoy a Bulmer’s or a Murphy’s or a Guinness. Listening to tunes new or traditional. One day.
Dear San Francisco,
I’ll be back!! You welcomed me when I wasn’t feeling well. Your blue sky and mild breezes embraced and nurtured me. The stately rise of the Golden Gate Bridge made me have hope and provided a backdrop to a day of enjoyment. The cable cars were also a memorable ride and Fisherman’s Wharf greeted me with open arms. I’ll see you again soon. XOXOX
Dr. Mary K. C.
Mother India. Thank you. Every day felt like a surprise and a gift. You were absolutely not like the image I had of you. I was so scared of you, but you felt like home. Thank you for the people I met. Thank you for the lessons they taught me. I will come back when it is possible again. As a returning daughter, not a tourist.
Much love & respect.
You are my favourite place to visit, especially Paris. I had a trip planned for Nice in late August and Paris for the month of September. Now I’m constantly looking at photos of trips I’ve taken in this period of not being able to travel.
Dear Kruger Park,
I hope all is well with you and all of your glorious animals! One day, we will be back to smell the South African air and spy you through our own eyes.
I miss you! (and your tarts) …
You were the surprise package that blew me away. Of all the countries in the overland trip, from east to west, you were the best. I remember being so hot travelling through Iran wearing all the black coverup garb – being able to swim in your beautiful Mediterranean Sea was absolute bliss. While enjoying a relaxed group dinner in an open-air hilltop restaurant overlooking the sea that night, I thought: Well, it doesn’t get much better than this!
Turkey, I loved everything about you, and I would come back in a heartbeat.
Thank you for being such an endless inspiration! Every time I visit, there seems to be more and more beauty I can immerse myself in: your green olive groves and calm blue waters, narrow sun-kissed streets and shimmering domes of your ancient towns, all the countless treasures of art and history, mighty waves of music in the darkness of your opera houses, and more. So much more.
I admire your gentle soul, your strong spirit and your zest for life. Hope to see you again soon!
I miss your beauty, charm and hospitality! I loved every single minute I spent with you.
How I fell for you so hard and fast. Counting the days until we meet again.
Land of beautiful smiles and wonderful people with generous hearts. Land of contrasts, from lake to mountains. I loved every moment I spent with you and wish I could return. Thank you for your generosity of spirit, experiences, and friendships. Stay strong and never change.
I’ve roamed through 60+ countries in 14 years of career travel, and one of my favourite travel memories was an expedition cruise circumnavigating your shores. The cruise itself was enough to make my heart soar. But your people of Newfoundland stole the show. From Wanita in Red Bay who shook up the UN with a passionate plea, to Mary in Conche who would (literally) do a jig to fill a minute of dead air, to the utterly isolated town of Francois (pronounced “fran-sway”) that really knows how to party…I can’t wait to return.
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Spain holds a special place in my heart, always inviting deeper exploration into its history and culture. I’m hoping these virtual tours by Context Travel satisfy my wanderlust until I can return!
JourneyWoman Book Club: “Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World” by Rita Golden Gelman
In January 2021, the JourneyWoman Book Club explores nomad life, with “Tales of a Female Nomad”, the memoir of Rita Golden Gelman. Bring your backpack and join us s we head to Bali, Mexico, Nicaragua and Israel.
In February 2021, JourneyWoman Book Club visits the ancient city of Orvieto in Italy’s Umbria region, with “The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria.”