Most people in the tourism industry are more than willing to say adieu to the year 2020. The twenty-first century’s third decade began with extremely high hopes. A mere year ago, no one could have conceived of the fact that by March of 2020 the tourism industry would have been in shambles. In February of 2020, COVID-19 struck, and the tourism industry went into a tailspin going from unprecedent highs to its greatest lows. From February until the end of the year, every aspect of travel and tourism has suffered. Many hotels and restaurants are now bankrupt, others are still alive, albeit on economic life-support. The airline industry, which serves much more than the leisure traveler, faces continuous layoffs and potential bankruptcies. There is greater demand for national and international regulations due to the industry’s loss of credibility. Airline industry employees, and those who work in its satellite industries such as airport terminals, now live with perpetual uncertainty. The same can be said for major attractions and museums. Some museums have found themselves in such dire straits that they have had to auction off part of their priceless collections. At the start of 2021, the travel and tourism industry found itself in a state of severe economic contraction.
From major tourism centers to small towns, the travel and tourism industry is only now beginning to awaken to the many new challenges that it will have to overcome if it is to survive. With the current end, or hiatuses of the global economy, tourism leaders are having to rethink their assumptions and world views. In January of 2020 tourism leaders believed that during this new decade no industry, nation, or economy would be an island unto itself. International tourism was on the rise and many locales, such as Barcelona, Spain, Venice, Italy, or the United States national park system faced what only a year ago was called “over-tourism.” In the months of February and March (2020), the world of tourism changed, and the fear of over-tourism became the fight for tourism survival. How the travel & tourism industry adapts to these new economic and environment shifts will impact the world’s economy for decades to come.