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road trip trailer

With the decline in air travel from the pandemic, the classic road trip has become more popular in America.

Here are 8 ways travel will change after the pandemic

What will travel look like in the future? We asked the experts.

With coronavirus cases continuing to spike in America and abroad, travelers with a United States passport remain grounded. To date, just nine countries are open to Americans without restrictions. If Belarus, Serbia , Zambia or any of the other six countries on that list aren’t in the cards, then travelers itching to get on an international flight will have to wait.

How long is still unknown. Elizabeth Becker, author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism , notes that the pandemic “ decimated ” the $8 trillion global travel industry overnight. “Those essential pillars of 21st-century global travel—open borders, open destinations, and visa-free travel—won’t return in the short term or even medium term,” she says.

What does that mean for the future of travel? Despite the turbulence, experts are seeing blue skies. Bruce Poon Tip, author of Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still and the founder of travel company G Adventures , says not only will we travel again, we’ll do it better. “I still believe travel can be the biggest distributor of wealth the world has ever seen,” he says. “This pause gives us the gift of time to consider how we can travel more consciously.”

From a renewed commitment to sustainable tourism to creative ways to globetrot from home, here’s how travel authors, bloggers, and podcasters are navigating.

( Related: These 25 destinations inspire future journeys and remind us why we love to travel .)

Sustainability will be a driving force

Tourists crowd St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy

Tourists crowd St. ​Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy, in 2013. In the wake of the pandemic, experts predict there will be more interest in visiting less-crowded places.

One silver lining of the pandemic? Consumers are doubling down on sustainability . Becker predicts travelers will take on the role of “concerned citizens” demanding responsible travel policies. The industry will respond with active measures to prioritize a healthy world over profit margins. “Don’t be surprised if countries mandate ‘fly-free days’ and other measures to control climate change,” she says.

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Take action: Reduce your carbon footprint by purchasing offsets with companies such as Cool Effect and by staying at certified green hotels. Check sites like Book Different , which rates accommodations for eco-friendliness.

( Related: Here’s how Greece is rethinking its once bustling tourism industry .)

Our journeys will become more inclusive

The Black Lives Matter movement has brought the issue of representation to light in all industries, including travel. That’s overdue, says Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon . The award-winning journalist and TV host says she hopes the industry is moving toward meaningful change but worries that any change may be short-lived. “When the pandemic is past and the hashtags are no longer trending, will industry gatekeepers still be eager to attract, cater to, and celebrate travelers of color?” she writes in an email. “I’m cautiously optimistic but not completely convinced.”

Black Travel Alliance ’s Martinique Lewis feels the industry is moving in the right direction and remains hopeful. She notes that companies are addressing the needs of diverse customers and says it’s about time. “For the first time they are considering what a trans female goes through not only when choosing what bathroom to go in at a restaurant, but when she checks into a hotel and her license shows a different person,” says Lewis. “Now plus-size travelers wanting to surf and scuba but can’t because the lack of wetsuits in their size are being acknowledged. Now blind travelers who still want to experience tours and extreme sports while on holiday are thought of.”

Take action: Visit one of the nearly 200 living history museums in the U.S., where historic interpreters portray figures from the past. They shed light on painful issues (such as racism in America) and hidden narratives (such as those of people of color, whose stories have been suppressed).

Small communities will play a bigger role

Travelers can make a difference in small towns that were already struggling economically before the pandemic. Caz Makepeace of Y Travel Blog says she and her family have always traveled slowly to lesser-known areas, “rather than racing through destinations.” Now she’s supporting these places by patronizing local businesses and donating to nonprofits.

Kate Newman of Travel for Difference suggests travelers focus on “ global south ” or developing countries that depend on tourism. “We need to diversify our locations to avoid mass tourism and focus on the places that really need it,” she says. “Seeing so many communities suffer during COVID-19 has brought [this issue] to light.”

Take action: Turn to sustainable tourism educational and advocacy nonprofit Impact Travel Alliance to learn how to empower locals and protect the environment.

We’ll seek quality over quantity

High-mileage travelers are putting more thought into their bucket lists. “COVID-19 has allowed me to rethink how and why I travel,” says Erick Prince of The Minority Nomad . “It’s given me the freedom to explore travel projects for passion instead of the paycheck.” Rather than focusing on paid gigs, the blogger, who lives in Thailand, says he’ll be embarking on a self-funded project to highlight off-the-beaten-track provinces in his adopted country.

Eulanda Osagiede, of Hey Dip Your Toes In , is putting the breaks on international trips, citing travel as a privilege many take for granted. “Privilege comes in many forms, and the act of recognizing our travel-related ones have called us to think about traveling more intentionally and less often—if ever the world begins to look similar to its pre-pandemic days.”

Take action: Check the Transformational Travel Council for resources and recommendations on operators who can help organize meaningful journeys.

The road trip will kick into high gear

For many, road trips may be the only feasible option for travel right now, and frequent fliers like Gabby Beckford of Packs Light are revving up. Driving across state lines can be just as exciting as flying across international borders; it’s about the mindset. “Road-tripping has shown me that the core of travel—curiosity, exposure to newness, and wonder—[is] a perspective, not a destination,” she says.

Take action : Plan a coronavirus-conscious trip to Colorado, home to superlative stargazing sites —and what may become the world’s largest Dark Sky reserve.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Some high-mileage travelers say they plan to focus on meaningful experiences at out-of-the-way areas, like Chimney Tops in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park .

( Related: Check out these eight epic drives across America .)

Travel advisors will become essential

Conde Nast Traveller sustainability editor Juliet Kinsman predicts a shift to booking travel through agents and established operators, noting their invaluable knowledge and industry connections. “I think what 2020 has shown and taught us is the expertise and financial protection of booking through a travel agent often outweighs the amount you pay in commission,” she says. Additionally, she hopes that consumers will look to agents who specialize in the environment. “Those who care about where they send their customers can intuitively cut through greenwash and really ensure every link in the supply chain is an honorable one,” she says.

Related: Amazing architecture you can see from your car window

the Exterior view on Sunset Boulevard of Emerson College in Los Angeles

Take action: Find a travel advisor : The American Society of Travel Advisors maintains a database that allows travelers to search by destination, type of journey (such as eco-tourism or genealogy), and cohort (such as LGBTQ+ travelers). Virtuoso , a network of advisors specializing in luxury travel, can help with good deals, convenient itineraries, and tailored experiences.

We’ll appreciate staying closer to home

Some are discovering the benefits of travel even at home. Blogger Jessie Festa of Epicure & Culture and Jessie on a Journey normally travels internationally once a month. These days, online cultural cooking classes, games, and virtual experiences are helping her “to keep the spirit of travel alive by considering the feelings that travel elicits,” she says. Exchanging postcards with her extended travel community is another “beautiful way to ‘experience’ travel again, safely,” she adds.

“When we compare everything to being locked up indefinitely in our respective towers, a walk to the park can feel like travel,” says blogger Chris Mitchell of Traveling Mitch . “Now people are willing to see the magic in a meal on a patio at a restaurant down the street.”

Take action: Get outside, says the Norwegian concept “ friluftsliv ,” an idea of outdoor living that promises to make the pandemic’s colder months more bearable.

( Related: Here’s why walking is the ideal pandemic activity .)

Planning trips will become joyful again

Although some people are making the best of being grounded, this difficult period is reminding them that travel is important for boosting mental health and personal growth. There’s research to back it up. A 2013 survey of 483 U.S. adults found that travel improves empathy, energy, attention, and focus. Planning a trip is just as effective—a 2014 Cornell study showed that looking forward to travel substantially increases happiness, more than anticipating buying material goods.

Joanna Penn can attest to the healing benefits of both. The U.K.-based author and podcaster behind The Creative Penn and Books and Travel normally travels to research her books. “For me my writing life is all about what I learned when I travel,” she said in a recent podcast, “the ideas that come from being someplace new.” Her future trips will include walking the Camino de Santiago in 2022. Studying maps and determining a route makes her feel like she’s working toward a real goal. “I can expand my comfort zone without too much stress, especially if I accept that things might get canceled,” she said.

Take action: Plan a trip now, with inspiration from this essay on why travel should be considered an essential human activity.

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Oh the places we’ll go: My first trip after Covid

This pandemic will pass and we will travel again. but where will we go.

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

‘I hear the laughs of my biggest little girl barrelling down the slides at the campsite where I’ve taken my family to every year – apart from last year – since 2014.’Photograph: Getty Images

Conor Pope's face

'I remember the little mobile home a sun-kissed stroll away from the pool'   When the Covid dread threatens to overwhelm me in the dead of these dark nights I go camping in my mind. I think of four short slides leading to a small saltwater swimming pool on a campsite in northern Spain. I hear the laughs of my biggest little girl barrelling down the slides, oblivious to the roars of lifeguards made grumpy by days policing unruly children and their shoulda-known-better dads. My littlest big girl meanwhile, too small yet to take the plunge herself, waits in her mama's arms for her sisters to splash down, shrieking with delight when they do.

I remember the little mobile home a sun-kissed stroll away from the pool and the barbecue where I spend mellow evenings flipping hot burgers and sipping cold beers enveloped by the sounds of laughing children. I remember warm Mediterranean waves slapping the sandy beach running along one side of the site. I even recall wistfully the Esclat supermarket nearby where the Popes pile trolleys – yes, we need two – high with supplies at the start of every holiday, black-eyed prawns giving ice creams filthy looks as we shop. The campsite I take myself to when the dread strikes is where I've taken my family every year since 2014, every year except last year. Covid robbed us of our holiday in 2020 but it robbed us of more than that, it robbed us of memories. I plan to reclaim them when my turn on those slides next comes. – Conor Pope, Consumer Affairs Correspondent for The Irish Times

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

‘I want to sit by the pool in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica.’ Photograph: Lisa Romerein/Fairmont Hotel

'I want to go back to California'   I want to visit friends in Dublin and my mother in Italy, but mostly I want to go back to California. It seems so abstract and faraway now but at some point the possibility of a bigger life will once more present itself and I'll be reminded that the world is every bit as astounding as it was before these dreary days of constant confinements.

I want to drive the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles and spend a few days in the pine forests around Big Sur. I want to join in early-morning meditation in Ojai, visit San Simeon and watch the sun set over Venice Beach. I want to sit by the pool in the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica and imagine what it was like when Greta Garbo lived there. I want to suggest to management that they change their "do not disturb" signs so they read, "I want to be alone".

Make a holiday in Ireland an unforgettable experience

Make a holiday in Ireland an unforgettable experience

Should I end my strained relationship amid the Covid-19 pandemic?

Should I end my strained relationship amid the Covid-19 pandemic?

Swirled eggs, crunchy bacon crumble

Swirled eggs, crunchy bacon crumble

I want to eat in restaurants where waiters offer me toast with urban-beehive honey and feel quietly smug that Californians get so giddy about tomatoes that have half the flavour of the ones I buy in Aldi. I want to bathe in California's maximum dazzle. First, though, I have to wait. – Fionn Davenport (editor, Irish Travel News Network)

'It would be nice to . . . sample the beauty and delight of the west of Ireland'   Lockdown has made us all appreciate simple and modest things, so I am content to roll with that. When we can travel again, I hanker after a trip around the Irish coastline, particularly the western seaboard. My brother and his wife have a campervan and my hope is that I can sneak aboard as they strike out again on their adventures.

They tell me there's a lovely eco-friendly caravan park in Clifden so it would be nice to start there and go on to sample the beauty and delight of the west of Ireland. I was born in Sligo and brought up in Galway, so mountains and the sea "do it" for me. As long as I am dressed for the weather I don't care what it's like – I love walking and looking and talking to myself, and there's no better place to do all that than on the, quite immodestly beautiful, Irish coast. – Pauline McLynn, actor

'Me and my family are heading to Miami once it is safe'   Once it is safe, me and my family are going to the sun and heading to Miami. But not until we have all been vaccinated. I can't wait to travel again, and have missed it, but like everyone else, I just want it to be a safe world first and that will be very soon. Light is at the end of the tunnel. – Mary McKenna, MD Tour America

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

‘My love affair with Italy started the moment I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain in 2009.’ Photograph: Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

'For now I'll continue to stare out at Connemara mist and daydream but I need to go back to Italy'   My love affair with Italy started the moment I threw a coin into the Trevi fountain in 2009. As the legend goes, it means a return to the Eternal City. As much as I was wowed by the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Vatican, the cultural history, the architecture and the gelato, life's road has not led me back. I have adventured to different parts of this Mediterranean paradise though.

In Sicily, I sat on the deck of a boat bobbing up and down in the Tyrrhenian Sea drinking wine, watching as lava spewed and lit up the night sky. I sipped bellinis in Caffe Wunderbar and stood in Bar Vitelli, close to the church of San Nicolo, high in the Sicilian hills where Michael Corleone married Apollonia.

In Venice, I had the most expensive coffee of my life. In fair Verona, where I lay this scene, under the 14th-century building billed as the home of Shakespeare's Juliet, I touched the right breast of a bronze statue of the lovelorn fictional teenager for good luck. An Italian tour guide set her heart on me meeting her son Roberto. She assured me he would collect me on his Vespa but I never did meet him. For now I'll continue to stare out at Connemara mist and daydream but I need to go back to Italy, I've thrown a coin in the Trevi fountain and who knows, maybe I'll see what Roberto and his Vespa are up to these days. – Ciara King, 2FM DJ

'I want to take my partner home, to see where I was made'   When Australia opens her borders I will go home for a holiday. My dad will pick me up but will not meet me in the arrivals terminal. "Bloody airport parking is a rip off, that's how they get you." We will argue over whether our meeting spot is the "blue" or the "turquoise" car park then my dad will turn up and say over the V8 engine "Anybloodyway ow you garn' dahlin' we missed ya dint we Lozza?" And it will instantly feel like home.

I will lie in my parents' backyard drinking their beer in a bikini top and a pair of denim hot pants that my mum banned from family gatherings when I was 17. I will sit and talk with my grandmothers and put ice in white wine to keep it cold. I don't care if this sounds crass. This is the land of "it's too hot to give a s**t". We go to the supermarket with no shoes and no shirt. No problem. Overweight retirees in Speedos sit on the beach next to the topless Instagram models, both safe from stares or comments.

Most of all I want to take my partner home, to see where I was made. So that he understands I'm not mental. Just a Sydneysider. But until the border reopens I will join the other 40,000 Aussies in the long queue to get back, all of us waiting for the day we hear familiar footsteps in flip flops hitting concrete, a voice we know calling our names across the carpark. 'Oi this way!' – Brianna Parkins, Broadcaster

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Budapest train station: ‘Budapest and Berlin are two of my favourite cities.’ Photograph: Getty Images

'The first thing I'd like to do is take a sleeper train through Europe'   I've not left my small town in months so the idea of going anywhere beyond my own postcode feels on a par with rollerskating around the rings of Saturn. I won't be in the market for any new destinations or experiences. My immediate travel priorities will require familiarity and reassurance that all is as it should be so the first thing I'd like to do is take a sleeper train through Europe, ideally between Berlin and Budapest, two of my favourite cities.

There’s something thrillingly romantic about taking night trains across Europe. No form of travel beats being lulled to sleep in a bunk by the swaying of the carriage and having your dreams underpinned by a gentle, rhythmic clanking from the tracks beneath. Occasionally you’ll stir in the dead of night, realising the train has stopped. There are slamming doors farther up the train, distant voices in foreign tongues and for a brief moment you could be in a John le Carré novel.

In the morning you're woken by a knock on the door from a bleary attendant in a waistcoat bearing coffee and a croissant, then the train is pulling into the heart of a city just as it's waking up. I hope it happens. Not least because driving the Christmas tree to the dump is currently in the running to be this year's holiday. – Charlie Connelly, author

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

‘Tramore gave us great memories.’ Photograph: Getty Images

'As soon as we can travel again we're going to Tramore'   My family will recreate a summer holiday from the 1990s in Tramore. For 10 years we went to the sunny southeast, first to a caravan, then to Sheila Brennan's B&B and eventually to a hotel called the Majestic. Over Christmas, we talked about the amusements in Tramore and about being in Splashworld – a swimming pool with two slides – and the beach and the promenade we walked while munching on fish and chips from Dooleys. We haven't been there in 20 years but could still name check places!

The plan is as soon as we can travel again we're going to Tramore, the five of us and our dog Arlow. Maybe we'll be too big for the amusements, maybe some shops are different but one thing is for sure, Tramore gave us great memories. Please God that chipper is still open, 13-year-old me can still taste the chips! – Thomas Crosse, FM104 DJ

We also posed the question “Where is the first place you’ll go” on Twitter. Here are just a handful of the responses.

Uganda to see family, friends, soak up equatorial sunshine, eat the best pineapples and bananas in the world, dance, drink waragi and find a swimming pool by the river Nile. – Muireann Kyeyune

Road trip in a camper van from Calgary to Vancouver and then by ferry to Alaska. – Vivienne Clarke

New York City baby! The thought of it is keeping the fires lit! – Liam Murphy

I aim to ski by Easter maybe, driving to Lake Garda and Austria in July and Krakow later in year! – Aileen Eglington

Wee trip to Gaoth Dobhair would be just lovely, and to sit in a pub watching the world go by. – Nuala Connolly

Hope to go to Spain mid June just for the sun and relaxation. – Sheila Kelly Reilly

Have a baby now so nothing too crazy, but I can see myself sitting outside of Tigh Neachtains in Galway on a sunny Friday afternoon having a couple of pints of Guinness. – Ciaran McGrenera

I would love to travel the Wild Atlantic Way. Unfortunately I don't drive, 2nd choice Lanzarote bliss. I live in hope. – Pauline Killion

Paris, where I will spend the entire time in busy restaurants and cafes. – Karen Maye

My escape to a slower pace of life on Rathlin Island

Hang dai meal box review: a chinese takeaway you will never tire of, try cooking lobster at home with roasted seville oranges, travel trends for 2021: what you can expect from your holidays this year, black friday hotel deals: some of the best offers from around ireland, covid jab: ryanair will not ask for proof of vaccination within eu, and then there were none: travel green list down to zero, in this section, dozy dozen: 12 of the best spots to get 40 winks in ireland and overseas, how a rail pass could be just the ticket for cheap travel across europe for all ages, eleven hidden gems: the best lesser-known attractions to visit around ireland on a budget, e-gates of hell signal start of travel chaos season, ireland through the eyes of foreign travel writers: ‘english speaking, but not britain. no hustle. safe’, bruce springsteen in croke park review: blockbuster performance closes irish tour on an emotion-filled evening, moving back to ireland would mean working till 10pm, no home of my own and bad coffee, teen hospitalised after stabbing in dublin city centre, motorcyclist killed in m50 crash named locally, bishop describes as ‘shameful’ church of ireland rejection of motion on baptism for children of unmarried mothers, latest stories, iran’s president found dead at helicopter crash site, state media reports.

Iran’s president found dead at helicopter crash site, state media reports

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17 Trips T+L Editors Can't Wait to Take As Soon As We Can Travel Again

When it's time to travel again, where will you go? We share the places on our minds to inspire your next quarantine daydream.

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

As editors at Travel + Leisure , we've been teaching ourselves how to lean into leisure while spending time at home lately — but it's always been travel that fuels us.

The excitement that comes with researching a destination, planning a trip, experiencing a place, and meeting new people — and helping you, our readers, do the same — is the force that drives us to come to work each day.

We know how important it is to stay home right now, and we're so thankful to everyone helping us do so, from the healthcare workers and emergency responders fighting to keep us healthy and safe, to the grocery store and restaurant workers putting food on our tables , to the hospitality professionals who haven't given up on bringing the world to us, virtually . But that doesn't mean we aren't dreaming of packing our bags and getting back out there someday soon.

Now's a great time to reflect on past trips (maybe you'll finally do something with your treasured travel photos ?) and think about future ones. When it's time to travel again, where will you go? Back to your hometown to hug loved ones or to revisit a favorite place you've been missing? Or is there somewhere you've never been that you're aching to cross off your list more than ever?

Below, we share the places on our minds to get you thinking.

Bermuda — a destination within easy reach for East Coasters — is like salvation for me and my family. We have been vacationing there for years; it's become our go-to spot, in part because of the the flying time (under two hours from New York City), but more because of the friendliness of the locals and the beauty of the island itself. The pink sand beaches. The historic homes, painted all the hues of the rainbow. The winding, narrow roads, marked by limestone walls. When the time is right, we can't wait to return to this beautiful island, which feels like home. —Jacqueline Gifford, Editor-in-Chief

"The ride along the winding, cliffside roads above the Ionian Sea into Taormina has come to feel like a sort of homecoming for me — since my first visit in 2014, I haven't been able to stop going back. In part, it's the beaches, the food, the ancient history, the medieval architecture, and the romantic piazzas overlooking Mt. Etna, but it's also the friends I've made there who give me a reason to visit again and again. Along the way, I've been lucky enough to explore more of Sicily, from Palermo to Siracusa to Noto, and the island has become my favorite part of Italy — an entire country I absolutely love and am thinking of now more than ever. Quarantine videos of neighbors singing and eating dinner "together" from their balconies serve as reminders of what special communities still exist there and make me feel certain it will bounce back from this even stronger. Before long I hope to be having prosecco with breakfast (the ultimate sign of vacation) on the rooftop at my favorite spot, Hotel Villa Carlotta , with all of my Sicilian friends and New York family in tow." — Nina Ruggiero , Deputy Digital Editor

Cross-country Road Trip

"They always say you want what you can't have, and because current travel advisories warn that we shouldn't really go anywhere, naturally I want to go EVERYWHERE. That said, I'm hoping to embark on an epic coast-to-coast road trip across America post-COVID-19, and visit all the places I've been wanderlusting after in one go. I'd love to hit cities like Chicago, Denver, and Las Vegas, but I'm most looking forward to trading in my cramped, indoor, social distancing situation for the vastness of national parks like Arches and Bryce Canyon in Utah." — Hillary Maglin , Assistant Digital Editor

Philippines and Vietnam

"My friends and I originally had plans to visit the Philippines and Vietnam in May, but those plans, like so many others this year, have since been thwarted. I've traveled all over East Asia and Southeast Asia, but these two countries I've yet to check off my bucket list — and from what I hear, I've saved two of the best for last. It's incredibly unfortunate that Asians have experienced racism around the world just because the first outbreaks of the virus occurred in Asia. In the end, it's a global pandemic that has affected us all. I can't wait to get a chance to go back and spend some tourism dollars in this incredibly vibrant, culturally rich part of the world. The things I'm looking forward to the most, when this is all over? Lying side by side with my friends on a gorgeous tropical beach (perhaps within 6 feet of our neighbors on the sand!), and going to packed street food stalls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, eating insanely good food elbow to elbow with strangers." — Karen I. Chen , Editorial Producer

"I've never been to Greece, and nearly every part of the country has been at the top of my travel list for as long as I can remember. Right now I am particularly craving the bright blues and whites and the strong sun of the photos I've been searching of Santorini. But with the island having been a major cruise hub (and generally full of tourists), I've ended up on alternative trips that have suited my desire for luxury with very few people. Greece has taken COVID-19 very seriously since the beginning of the year and has seen success in efforts to 'flatten the curve', which I hope continues for them (and the rest of us). Once we're able to fly again, I imagine Santorini becoming the ideal destination for travelers like me who yearn for warm waters, quiet streets, culture, and a touch of luxury, but also want to contribute to the tourism of a place that needs it." — Kendall Cornish , Associate Digital Editor

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

"The first trips I’ll take once I can will be to visit my family in South Carolina and my husband’s family in Paris – both trips I make semi-regularly and have had to cancel this spring! But after those will come a too-rare, non-family-tied vacation for me and my husband. We’d been in the middle of planning one earlier this year and were so close to settling on Jamaica as a destination. I can’t wait to pick back up the thread on planning that vacation, which I’m hoping will include a stay at the Skylark, live music, lots of rum punch, and as much time on the beach as I’m currently spending in my apartment." — Skye Senterfeit , Photo Editor

"Once we can fly again, I'm heading straight to San Francisco to see my adorably squishy niece, Edie, who just turned one. And then, since California happens to be on the way to Australia, I'm hoping to make my way to Queensland. Learning to scuba dive was one of my goals for the year, and there's nowhere I'd rather take the plunge than the Great Barrier Reef. As a science nerd, I'm eager to pepper the marine biologists with questions and see the incredible conservation work they're doing first-hand. Plus, between Cairns and the Whitsundays, there are tons of beautiful new and recently renovated hotels to choose from." — Sarah Bruning , Senior Editor

"Rome is my favorite city, no contest. I am a fairly adventurous traveler, and I love learning about how big our world is and challenging myself to find connection in places that are unfamiliar to me. But I keep going back to Rome. (I was actually supposed to be on a plane to Rome in two days, but what can you do?) There's something about the city that makes it feel elemental; it's been inhabited for so long, it's changed the course of the world ten times over. And yet every corner of it — from the crumbling marble ruins you run into when you're least expecting, to the patchwork of medieval apartment buildings and Renaissance churches, to the cold, commanding Mussolini-era structures — feels so lived in and natural. Whenever I go, I can feel that people are meant to be in Rome, and they will be, long after the other cities are gone." — Hannah Walhout , Associate Editor

"I really don't get back to the Midwest to see family and friends that often, but the current travel restrictions are somehow making the distance seem even more vast. I can't wait to get home and see my family in Wisconsin, and spend time with friends in the Twin Cities (and check out the buzzy Lora hotel in nearby Stillwater)." — Erin Agostinelli , Editorial Operations Manager

London and Paris

"I moved back to the United States from London in September, and I've been looking forward to visiting ever since I left. I can't wait to have afternoon tea at the Corinthia, revisit my favorite bars in Shoreditch, and wander through the Royal Parks. After a few days in London, I'll hop on the Eurostar and head to Paris for a few days of pastries, wine, and cheese accompanied by museums and lots of shopping. More than anything, I'm excited to get out and freely explore cities I love (and new destinations) once this is over — that feeling of waking up in a new city and not knowing where your day will take you is something I really miss." — Elizabeth Rhodes , Associate Digital Editor

New Orleans with a side of Houston

"I've been watching Treme during lockdown in NYC, and few things will make you miss New Orleans as much as the HBO classic. Since my last visit there, a ton of cool new hotels have opened that I'm keen to check out; the food and drink are obviously high on anyone's list. I'd love to tack on a few days in Houston, too, a place that's often overlooked by people headed to the Gulf Coast — even though it's just as much fun as New Orleans." — Paul Brady , Articles Editor

The beach. Any beach.

"I tend to spend several weeks during the spring and summer lounging on various beaches across the globe (as a Pisces, I'm drawn to the water!). I need to feel the sand between my toes, the sun shining on my face, and really more than anything else, the sound of the ocean." — Deanne Kaczerski , Digital Executive Editor

Mexico City

"Recently, in the midst of an otherwise unremarkable Netflix binge, a scene of people eating tacos in a Mexican market sent me into full-on ugly tears. My first trips will be to see the faraway friends and family members I dearly miss, but after that, I'm making a beeline to CDMX and not coming home until I've eaten an unholy amount of masa-based foods. If you see me weeping profusely in Mercado La Merced, never fear: It's probably just some combination of wildly spicy chiles and unadulterated joy." — Lila Harron Battis , Senior Editor

"My May was set to look a lot different: I had planned to watch my best friend get married in Perugia, and then drive through northern Italy, stopping in Florence, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Lucca, and Rome. I dreamed of devouring heaping plates of pasta, sipping on cappuccinos and aperitivo, winding through historic towns and plunging coastlines, and generally soaking in everything that makes Italy the full package it is. It was going to be Italian-chef’s-kiss kind of perfect. But like so many others, my friend was forced to postpone her nuptials, and I had to take a rain check on that road trip. So when this is all behind us, I’m booking it to the Boot. I’ll do all the things I had mapped out the first time around: hiking the five, pastel-painted towns in Cinque Terre, admiring the Colosseum in Rome and Duomo in Florence, feasting on all the pizza, pasta, and seafood my stomach can handle, drinking my way through Tuscany’s bucolic vineyards, and then some." — Alisha Prakash , Senior Digital Editor

Puerto Rico

"Like so many others, a highly-anticipated trip was canceled thanks to the pandemic. So once this is all said and done I’m booking the first flight out of NYC to finally make it — for the first time — to Puerto Rico. There you’ll find me lounging by the pool at the historic Caribe Hilton sipping on the drink the hotel created, a classic Piña Colada . Besides breathing fresh air by the pool and the ocean, I’m going to Cocina Abierta for what I’m told will be the best meal of my life. Besides San Juan, I want to explore other regions of the island and, after spending so much time in my tiny apartment, can’t wait to get out in nature at El Yunque, a tropical rainforest waiting for visitors." — Tanner Saunders , Associate Digital Editor

Palm Springs and Texas

"Aside from immediately flying home to fill up on all of the comforts of Texas — because tacos, margaritas, and backyard BBQs with family and friends are my highest priorities post-quarantine — my first vacation back in the world will be to Palm Springs, California, a destination that keeps slipping my grip. A few years ago, my plans were squashed due to poor planning and I was supposed to be there this May before the summer heat picks up. I am determined to do all I can to make the trip finally happen, whenever that may be. I look forward to exploring nearby Joshua Tree, staying at the Ace Hotel, and hanging out by the pool in the desert sun. Finding peace and relaxation with the perfect balance of nature and the exploration of the laid-back city is the ultimate vacation goal." — Mariah Tyler , Digital Photo Editor

"I can’t wait to start traveling again, and one of the first places I’ll be excited to visit is Copenhagen. I’ve visited the Danish city a couple times before, and each time I’ve fallen more in love with the culture, food, and architecture. From browsing shops and lounging in cafes to taking a field trip out of the city to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, there’s no shortage of things to do. Plus, we could all use a little extra dose of hygge right now, which the Danes do so well." — Madeline Diamond , Associate Digital Editor

Related Articles

These could be the most popular travel destinations after COVID-19

Visitors wearing protective face masks practice social distancing as they offer prayers at a temple at Asakusa district, a popular sightseeing spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan October 13, 2020.   REUTERS/Issei Kato - RC2KHJ9ZNXUP

Visitors wearing protective face masks practice social distancing as they offer prayers at a temple at Asakusa district, a popular sightseeing spot, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan October 13, 2020. Image:  REUTERS/Issei Kato

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Maksim soshkin, jessica a. bell.

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

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Stay up to date:, sdg 03: good health and well-being.

  • Health and safety could drive travel bookings after the pandemic.
  • The quality of health response during the pandemic could impact a destination's competitiveness.

Health and hygiene have always played a crucial part in global travel and tourism competitiveness. Now COVID-19 is turning them into even more important factors , and could be reshaping the map of the most popular travel destinations in the process.

According to a new report by Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), in collaboration with the Global Health Security Index, TCI Research, Tripadvisor and the World Economic Forum, future travellers are likely to gravitate towards destinations that are seen to be clean, healthy, and safe, and to have managed the pandemic relatively well. These emerging travel patterns don’t just show us what a near-term or mid-term reopening of tourism could be like. They could also have long-lasting consequences for the entire travel and tourism sector as they alter the competitiveness of individual destinations.

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here , and our impact story with further information.

This report analysed emerging trends in the preferences, attitudes and choices of travellers with regard to health and hygiene. The results suggest that health and hygiene strongly drive booking behaviour and will in turn alter the competitive travel and tourism landscape.

Building on the report findings to extend this preference for health and hygiene, this analysis takes into account actual COVID-19 responses. Specifically, if post-pandemic consumers evaluate a destination’s crisis response before deciding to travel there, how does it alter those destinations' competitive stances in relation to each other.

Asia Pacific (APAC) makes a good case study in this regard. It is highly competitive in global terms with regard to travel and tourism, but its health and hygiene landscape is very diverse.

For example, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) , which is based on an analysis of 140 economies, Asia Pacific is the second most competitive travel and tourism region in the world behind Europe. Out of the index’s top 20 global destinations, seven are in the Asia Pacific region. However, the region’s average score for health and hygiene is significantly lower than that of Europe .

In general, there is a positive correlation between health and hygiene, and overall competitiveness, as shown by the following chart. Destinations that score high on health and hygiene also tend to score high on travel and tourism competitiveness

World Economic Forum, The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019

How COVID-19 response may reshuffle competitiveness

By global comparison, most of the Asia Pacific destinations mentioned mounted strong COVID-19 responses. Generally, the region handled many aspects of the crisis in an exemplary way.

Within this broadly successful group, some destinations have performed even more strongly in terms of pandemic control than others. Given that tourists now pay attention to such pandemic-related competence, this could enhance their competitiveness as a destination of choice when travel reopens.

World Economic Forum, The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019

Japan and Australia For example, Japan and Australia ranked highly for destination competitiveness before the pandemic. They both mounted strong responses to COVID-19, but others reported even fewer cases. In theory this could nudge tourists towards those other Asia Pacific destinations, such as Vietnam and Thailand, that have had very few cases by global comparison.

On the other hand, when compared to other countries in the world, Japan and Australia have been successful in controlling the pandemic, and also have a long history as top destinations given their cultural and natural assets. By marketing themselves as health-aware given their strong underlying health and hygiene infrastructure, as well as destinations offering unique cultural and nature-related experiences, they will likely retain their competitive edge.

Thailand and Vietnam Meanwhile, destinations like Thailand and Vietnam, who have both mounted leading regional and global COVID-19 responses, may gain in competitiveness after the crisis due to the perception of safety for travellers going there.

Have you read?

Here’s how to rebuild trust in international travel, covid-19 could change travel – but not in the way you think, this simple digital solution could streamline global travel and boost trade during covid - here's how, here's how international travel has suffered during the pandemic.

For example, in the TTCI, Thailand ranked fourth to last in this grouping with regard to tourism competitiveness at 31 . However, according to the Global Health Security (GHS) Index , an assessment and benchmarking of health security in 195 national-level destinations, Thailand is the top Asia Pacific destination and ranks sixth globally. Thailand is the only middle-income destination to score in the highest tier of the GHS Index, where it earned top scores for its laboratory and specimen transport systems, risk communication plans, and integrated disease surveillance systems. Thailand also ranks second for healthcare access and is one of only five destinations to publicly commit to giving priority access to healthcare workers who develop illness while responding to public health emergencies.

With regard to COVID-19, Thailand’s response has been extremely strong, with low case counts and strong lockdown measures.

Vietnam is a great example of how competitiveness may greatly change into the future. Although Vietnam’s global TTCI ranking was on a growth trajectory, improving from 75 in 2015 to 63 in 2019 , it still ranked lowest out of this “Top APAC Destinations” grouping at 63. Furthermore, in comparison to other regional destinations, it’s GHS pandemic preparedness ranking was in the bottom three, with a global rank of 50. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s strong response to COVID-19 is one of the best in the world. The destination’s strict and swift policy and health responses have been celebrated and studied around the world, as have its early and ongoing leading communications efforts (which included a viral PSA music video and dance challenge featuring Vietnamese pop stars that has been viewed over 60 million times since March on YouTube).

Therefore, Thailand and Vietnam should both continue investing in their health infrastructure, while destination managers should also undertake proactive communications and marketing efforts to integrate their COVID-19 response as a point of pride and traveller safety into future destination marketing campaigns. Doing so may help both destinations gain a substantial competitive advantage over other regional players once tourism fully reopens in due time.

Singapore Singapore is another case worth exploring. Scoring in the middle of the selected APAC list for both travel and tourism (T&T) competitiveness , the city-island-nation has also mounted a strong pandemic response in both global and regional terms. Indeed, many destinations around the world are lauding Singapore’s leading technology interventions and contact tracing efforts, especially since officials there made the underlying code open source to developers around the world.

That said, aside from just assessing a destination's response to COVID-19 in health terms, it is also important to recognise the dynamic nature and relationship of the various components of T&T competitiveness and how COVID-19 will impact them. For example, in light of these new health and hygiene preferences, visitors and residents may have a greater preference for less densely populated nature destinations, a great benefit for some nature rich destinations in Asia Pacific. This could adversely affect urban destinations like Singapore, despite its health and hygiene scores and pandemic response being very strong. To offset this potential prejudice toward urban tourism, destinations like Singapore will need to find a way to showcase their strong response to COVID-19 as well as preparatory measures in case of future infectious disease outbreaks to put future travellers at ease.

India A final case to consider is India. In terms of T&T competitiveness, the destination is ranked 34 in the TTCI, and globally has the eighth and fourteenth highest scores for cultural and natural resources, respectively. Combined with the thirteenth best price competitiveness, it is not a surprise that international tourist arrivals to India have jumped from 5.8 million in 2010 to 17.4 million in 2018 . However, the destination ranks 105th for health and hygiene, which includes insufficient access to basic sanitation services and limited physicians and hospital beds relative to population. Furthermore, India has been one of the hardest hit destinations by the pandemic. Thus, despite its rich culture and natural resources, India and other similar destinations may lose competitiveness given underlying weaknesses in health and hygiene as well as a pro-longed COVID-19 response.

"These findings could help catalyse political will to fill gaps in health security and hygiene capacity, and also better integrate tourism into the national health agenda, and health into tourism promotions."

Integrating T&T into national and local health policy agendas

The above analysis was done solely to highlight that, based on current observable trends, the traveller of the future will take into account a destination’s underlying health and hygiene conditions, including COVID-19 crisis response, before making any booking decisions.

Furthermore, the purpose is not to critique individual governments or health systems, rather show how indices like the TTCI exist specifically to showcase the complex and interrelated nature of the tourism sector, while simultaneously promoting meaningful multi-sectoral engagement to complement existing processes for national health security and T&T needs assessment, prioritisation, planning, and financing.

These findings could help catalyse political will to fill gaps in health security and hygiene capacity, and also better integrate tourism into the national health agenda, and health into tourism promotions. To do so, travel policy, infrastructure, digitalisation and now health and hygiene systems will all have to be aligned.

More information on these findings and how destination competitiveness will change can be found in our joint report, The Impact of Health and Hygiene on Post COVID-19 Destination Competitiveness .

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World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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Tourist arrivals in Thailand—a leading tourist destination—have dropped dramatically. In addition to providing soft financing to tour operators, the country is promoting domestic tourism and long-term stays.  (photo: Preto Perola by Getty Images)

Tourist arrivals in Thailand—a leading tourist destination—have dropped dramatically. In addition to providing soft financing to tour operators, the country is promoting domestic tourism and long-term stays. (photo: Preto Perola by Getty Images)

  • IMF Country Focus

Tourism in a Post-Pandemic World

February 26, 2021

Tourism continues to be one of the sectors hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for countries in the Asia-Pacific region and Western Hemisphere. Governments in these regions, and elsewhere, have taken measures to ease the economic shock to households and businesses, but longer-term the industry will need to adapt to a post-pandemic “new normal.” 

Related Links

  • Read the paper
  • Watch the seminar
  • F&D article on tourism-dependent countries

If you are hesitant to hop on a plane these days, you are not alone. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), tourist arrivals are estimated to have fallen 74 percent in 2020 compared to 2019.

For many developing countries in the Asia-Pacific and Western Hemisphere—small island states in particular—the effects have been severe. Before the pandemic hit, tourism was big business, accounting for more than 10 percent of global GDP. The share was even larger in tourism-dependent countries.

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Toward recovery

To recover, vaccines will need to be widely distributed, and policy solutions implemented.

Some governments have been providing financial support, either directly or through soft loans and guarantees to the industry. Thailand allocated $700 million to spur domestic tourism, while Vanuatu offered grants to small and medium-sized enterprises. Countries have also been assisting firms to adapt their business models and retrain staff. In Jamaica, the government gave free online training certification classes to 10,000 tourism workers to help improve their skills.

However, many tourism-dependent economies are hampered by limited fiscal space. New initiatives to reignite the sector could perhaps help. In Costa Rica, for example, national holidays have temporarily been moved to Mondays to boost domestic tourism by extending weekends. Barbados introduced a ‘Welcome Stamp’ visa—a one-year residency permit that allows remote employees to live and work from the country. Similarly, Fiji launched a Blue Lanes initiative that allows yachts to berth in its marinas after meeting strict quarantine and testing requirements.

Post-pandemic, a continuing shift toward ecotourism—a fast-growing industry focused on conservation and local job creation—could give an additional boost to the industry. This is already a key element of Costa Rica’s tourism strategy. Thailand too is trying to shift to niche markets, including adventure travel and health and wellness tours. 

Technology can also play an important role. With social distancing and health and hygiene protocols likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future, touchless service delivery and investments in digital technology could be a bridge to recovery.

Finally, should the reduction in travel be longer lasting, owing to changes in tourist preferences or economic scarring, some tourism-dependent countries may need to embark on a long and difficult journey to diversify their economies. Investing in non‑tourism sectors is a long-term goal but could be aided by strengthening links between tourism and locally produced agriculture, manufacturing, and entertainment. In Jamaica, for instance, an online platform was launched that allows buyers in the hotel industry to directly purchase goods from local farmers. Exports, including services, could also be expanded, using regional agreements to address the constraints imposed by limited economies of scale.   

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Solutions will differ from country to country, and the pace and scope of recovery will of course depend on global developments. But there is an important opportunity to be harnessed. Beyond the immediate priority of mitigating the impact of the pandemic, countries will need to create a “new normal” for the tourism industry. Diversifying, shifting to more sustainable tourism models and investing in new technologies could help to shape the recovery.

The Future of Tourism: Can the pandemic change how we visit popular sites for the better? 

Rendering of a building wrapped around a tree in a forest.

Many of us have spent the past months yearning to travel, but we’ve also had time to reflect on our collective travel habits. Businesses won’t be eager to resume flying after successfully shifting meetings online, and that will be a good thing when it comes to carbon emissions. As for leisure travel, increased engagement with our local environs will probably have led many of us to question what tourism is for. If the global tourist economy is going to ratchet back into high gear, how can it be done more sustainably, with greater understanding of cultural diversity, and with fewer negative impacts on sought-after sites? This semester at the Harvard GSD, studios in architecture and urban planning led by Toshiko Mori , Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu , and Daniel D’Oca explored these questions both directly and indirectly. All four professors are wary of tourism even as they acknowledge its seemingly inextricable role in so many aspects of our lives.

I caught up with Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu via videoconference in Shanghai, where they’ve been for most of the pandemic. Neri and Hu are the John C. Portman Design Critics in Architecture and co-founders of Shanghai-based Neri&Hu . Like most of us, their travel has been significantly curtailed these past months, and what tourism they’ve engaged in has been mainly within China. Hu observes that, with few options for traveling abroad, “People are just restless, so they’ve started traveling inland to visit cultural landmarks. I feel like everyone I know in Shanghai has gone this past year to Jingdezhen, the ceramics town.” Neri also notes “a conscious effort to travel within China and understand all the great places in this country.”

Rendering of a man standing in front of a three story structure.

Tourism within China has been facilitated by a boom in infrastructure development, much of it built as part of the so-called Belt and Road Initiative that began in 2013. (The “belt” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and “road” to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road—these are the land-based and sea-based parts of the initiative.) Transportation infrastructure of all types has been rapidly modernized. “The extension of major roadways has meant that places that would have taken you days to get there now take hours,” Neri says. “Before the train that takes 40 minutes from Shanghai to Hangzhou, it used to take three-and-a-half hours by car.” This increase in speed has “definitely increased tourism to places that would not have been easily accessible.”

How do you bring about an authentic connection to culture? How do you bring people together rather than isolating everyone? How do you prevent experience from being entirely commercialized?

A particular type of cultural tourism in China has grown dramatically as a result of this intensification of speed and accessibility. Imagine staged scenes of farmers leading cattle across picturesque bridges—with rows of tourists lined up in the right spot to catch the perfect photo. Neri describes how “developers have picked up on the idea that if you add culture to a common itinerary for tourists, it adds value.” This cold economic logic raises questions: “How do you bring about an authentic connection to culture?” Hu asks. “How do you bring people together rather than isolating everyone? How do you prevent experience from being entirely commercialized?”

Neri and Hu’s studio, “ De/constructing Cultural Tourism ,” looks at these questions as the impetus to exploring ways of creating more meaningful engagement with tourist sites. The problem they pose begins with John Ruskin, the 19th-century architecture theorist and philosopher of travel. Neri recites a famous Ruskin quote, which acts as a riddle: “I would rather teach drawing that my pupils may learn to love nature, than teach the looking at nature that they may learn to draw.” Neri explains that, “For Ruskin, drawing is the catalyst to seeing and understanding the things around us. In Ruskin’s argument, when we see something beautiful, our natural tendency is to want to possess it. But if we don’t understand it, the possession is meaningless.” Generating such understanding is difficult, Hu says: “The state of our contemporary reality involves taking out your iPhone to photograph something rather than sitting there and spending the time to sketch out a building. Nobody really writes in journals anymore. They just take films of themselves that go into the cloud, and they never have time to look at them again.”

The studio’s two locations are UNESCO-listed heritage sites, Ping Yao and the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang. The latter is a Buddhist sanctuary first constructed in 366 AD and located at a strategic point along the Silk Road, and the former is an “exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century.” [1] These are among the most visited tourist sites in China, and thus are more likely to become checkboxes on itineraries than places for thoughtful engagement.

Rendering of two people in a dark room lit from above.

The studio focuses on a particular building type, the kezhan, or travelers’ rest stop. Neri describes one elaborate architectural form that serves as a precedent: “The typology of the caravanserai from the Middle East actually came to China along the Silk Road and became a different form,” he says. “It’s a city in itself. It’s usually round, very much like the famous Tulou in Fujian province, except much bigger. There are buildings inside—it’s a bazaar—and there’s always a hotel component. It’s a place where people come in and not only are they resting, but they’re also trading. It’s also a place of business, a safe environment.” Taking time is a key aspect of the architecture. “The longer you’re there, the more you come to know the inner circle of who’s actually in charge of the place,” Neri says. “It’s not just about fast transactions. It’s about layering. It’s also about hierarchy and vertical relationships. People sleep above and do their commercial activities on the ground floor.” The external orientation is equally nuanced. “Ultimately, our goal is for you to understand all the things around it,” Hu says. “There’s a lot of architectural strategy that students can use: framing views, staging interactions, opening up the layers of culture.”

Neri and Hu’s studio may ultimately provoke more questions than it answers. “The best part of the studio is that no one is traveling, so everyone is itchy to embark on that first trip after things open up,” Hu says. “The studio is like a rest stop for the students as well.”

Daniel D’Oca’s studio, “ Highways Revisited ,” focuses on a slice of American urban history that at first glance has little to do with tourism. D’Oca is an associate professor in practice of urban planning and co-founder of the New York–based firm Interboro Partners , and I talked to him while he was on the road. His studio zeroes in on the local impacts of America’s interstate highway system, which was expanded dramatically beginning with the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. The changes brought about by the act were enormous, including an explosion of suburban growth, the emptying of downtowns, and the solidification of automobile culture in the American psyche. Many freeways were routed through low-income minority neighborhoods, changing them profoundly, usually in negative ways. Examples are scattered across the country. D’Oca lists a couple his studio has investigated: “In Detroit, a highway was routed through Black Bottom, a Black neighborhood, more or less destroying it,” he says. “We’re also looking at a situation in El Paso where the fight is not whether to remove a highway, but whether or not to expand it beyond its current sixteen lanes.”

Hand hold card that reads Freeway Revolt above a gameboard.

Tourism is not the most pressing issue in these neighborhoods, but it is an inextricable component of the urban dynamics the studio is considering. “The communities we’re working on care primarily about housing, stability, and quality of life issues,” D’Oca says, “but I suspect that tourism would be a desirable feature of a lot of these plans, as long as it turns out equitably.” One way tourism might help is by providing a boost to local economies. Take the Greenwood neighborhood in Tulsa. “This was a thriving Black neighborhood—it was called Black Wall Street—and it was the site of a massacre in the 1920s, an unspeakable tragedy. The second tragedy was the highway, which went right through the neighborhood when it was rebuilding itself,” D’Oca says. “You have a lot of efforts now to remember the past as part of revitalizing this community and others like it—both past tragedies and the history of when it was thriving. I suspect they want tourists, and tourists might want to see the history of Black Wall Street.”

There is a serious conflict between what the community needs and the effects of tourism.

Daniel D’Oca

Although tourism can bring a welcome influx of people, it has the potential to overwhelm. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in New Orleans, where the Claiborne Expressway runs through the Tremé neighborhood. “You can imagine that if the freeway comes down, the neighborhood will be more desirable, and there will be a feeding frenzy with speculators buying up shopfront houses and turning them into Airbnb rentals,” D’Oca says. “Nobody in the community wants that. There is a serious conflict between what the community needs and the effects of tourism.” D’Oca advises that planners should take care when unleashing the force of tourism. “New Orleans is a cautionary tale,” he says. “The city has been eaten alive by Airbnb speculation. Entire neighborhoods have been bought up by speculators who turn houses into short term rentals. In the Tremé, it is the freeway that is keeping property values low. Fighting for the freeway to come down is only half the battle. The real battle is to make sure there’s an equitable plan for when it does come down.”

Rendering of a park.

Another tricky question: What happens when tourists stay? D’Oca has noticed that “something interesting has happened in the pandemic” in the small town in upstate New York where he lives. “Some people have moved here as remote work has become more plausible, and a lot of people are buying up second homes to get out of the city. I guess it’s a form of tourism—these are people who aren’t moving here but all of a sudden have houses here.” This has created cultural conflict. D’Oca continues: “It becomes a different vision of what the place should be, and sometimes it’s a zero-sum game. For example, if this is your second home, you don’t want to see growth; you want it to remain a 19th-century pre-industrial hamlet. But a lot of other people don’t have the luxury for their hometown to be that. They need jobs, they need housing.”

D’Oca describes a scene that has played out in similar small towns across America: “In a neighboring town there was a huge fight over a dollar store,” he says. “It was basically local people against weekenders. Some people thought it was the apocalypse—a dollar store coming to town. People like us need to check our class privilege. It’s about the image of the place: whether it will remain an agrarian landscape with hardly any houses in it, or somewhere more livable for working-class people.”

Among the lessons of D’Oca’s studio is how tourism can shade into gentrification. “The connection to tourism that’s really important is that this is a region with a declining population that is desperate for economic development,” D’Oca says. “And the tourist economy is thriving. The town is twice as busy on the weekends now, and increasingly amenities are geared to tourists—business that are only open Thursday to Sunday, selling $15 deli sandwiches. It comes at the expense of people who don’t see this as a boutique town but just as a regular place.”

The studio project of Toshiko Mori is set in Maine, so it is inevitable that tourism factors in. Mori is the Robert P. Hubbard Professor in the Practice of Architecture at the GSD and principal of Toshiko Mori Architect , and I reached her at her office in New York. Tourism has long been a major part of Maine’s economy, and it was hit hard by pandemic travel restrictions: the number of visitors and total tourist revenue each fell by about one-quarter last year. Mori’s studio, “ Between Wilderness and Civilization ,” is set in the small town of Monson, near the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, which is considered to be the wildest section of the Appalachian Trail and is thus a major hiking destination. But the studio is not about tourism. The brief asks students to “balance progress with respect for its ecology” on an abandoned 72 acres of farmland near town, and Mori is interested in other, deeper ways of thinking about the relationship between a place, local people, and visitors.

Two models of pavilions surrounded by trees and an elevated walkway.

The studio brief begins with story: “Over one hundred and fifty years ago, Henry David Thoreau was introduced to this forest by a Penobscot guide and chronicled his journey in his collection of essays The Maine Woods. At the end of his journey when he asked his guide if he was glad to have returned home, the guide replied, ‘It makes no difference where I am.’ To him, he belonged to the land, and the land did not belong to anyone—a fundamental mindset for living in balance with nature.”

Playing out the architectural implications of this mindset is a central goal of the studio. There don’t appear to be easy solutions. Monson has suffered job losses as local industries have shifted in recent decades, and it is not clear that plugging into Maine’s flow of tourists would revitalize the town. Hikers equip elsewhere, and the area is packed with picturesque locales. With support from the Libra Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Mori has instead set up an experiment in symbiosis with Monson Arts , an artists’ and writers’ residency program. “The foundation bought up housing stock that was in decline, renovated them, and started an artists’ and writers’ residency program—bringing in a total of 90 people in the last couple of years,” Mori says. “They have a restaurant and a general store. The foundation previously bought a building in New Gloucester, Maine, which used to be a horrible institution—they called it an institution for the mentally feeble—that really just placed marginalized people in terrible living conditions. The organization renovated the building and converted its program to an agricultural facility.” The question of the studio: How can one intervene in one of the poorest places in New England to attract young people and propose a new and viable economic base?

Tourism is consumption-based—humans going somewhere to take and take and take. We don’t give back and we don’t even think of the symbiosis that’s necessary to sustain human life in the forest.

Toshiko Mori

Monson Arts does draw tourists of a sort, although they are different from those who come to hike. Instead, Monson is being recognized as “a good laboratory for solving the major problem of how to deal with poverty in rural areas in the United States, and how to save towns from obsolescence,” Mori says. “It’s a kick-starter kind of a program. Because of the artists’ residency, people like museum curators and cultural commissioners have been drawn to see what is going on in Monson. Even in the short time we were involved with Monson, we heard of many different organizations coming to see it as an example, perhaps to consider investing.” For Mori, one idea is to “create a new resource for these visitors.” She notes that “the artists themselves are interested in certain types of tourism. They may want to visit the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture or the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association , the oldest and largest organic farming organization in the country.”

This circulation of people and ideas will hopefully serve the larger goal of connecting people with the Indigenous way of existing on the land. Monson is situated among the lakes and forests alongside the Piscataquis River, which flows into the Penobscot River, along which the present-day Penobscot Nation is located. Before European settlers, the tribe called the vast watershed of the Penobscot River home. “[The Penobscot] have a very different ethos and understanding of engagement with the place where they live,” Mori notes. “Tourism is consumption-based—humans going somewhere to take and take and take. We don’t give back and we don’t even think of the symbiosis that’s necessary to sustain human life in the forest.”

Model of elevated walkway and tree.

For the studio, Mori invited an ambassador from the Penobscot Nation to speak to the students about their life. “They travel by canoes on the Penobscot River; it’s a survival technique,” she says. “Which season to go to the coast or the river to fish, and when to forage in the forest. In the past they suffered a great deal because they were forbidden to forage in the forest, they were given ration foods, and their lifestyle was completely changed, leading ultimately to a public health crisis.” Fortunately, “They’re slowly gaining back their way of life,” Mori continues. “It depends on respecting land, not exploiting it. They think of the forest and human society in terms of equal coexistence.” This mindset manifests in all sorts of ways, large and small. Some examples came through in a visit to the exhibit of Penobscot birchbark canoes in Harvard’s Peabody Museum around the corner from the GSD. “For the birchbark canoes, there are ways to peel the bark without damaging the trees,” Mori says. “Another idea is that, when harvesting bark, it is better not to harvest from the best trees, but rather from the second best. That way the best trees can continue to sustain younger trees and protect other species. This is a very important piece of Indigenous wisdom.”

When emphasizing the sense of connection with nature, Mori is quick to point out that we should not be misled by simple distinctions between city and wilderness. “I live in New York, and this is our nature,” Mori emphasizes. “This is the place we live. We have to work with an ecosystem of this particular density, with the lives of people collapsed together in this way.” Mori is ultimately pessimistic about the capacity of tourism to allow connections to such wisdom. “In a real analysis, you would see that tourism is a colonial activity,” she says. “We really have to think twice about it. I think climate change is helping people to see this. The pandemic has helped us realize how high the energy consumption of travel is, and how unnecessary it is. Tourism in a city is similar to tourism in nature: people just skim the surface of glamour of a place like New York. But the people who lived through the pandemic in a city really got to understand its true nature and what makes it work. That’s similar in some ways to how Indigenous people live: living with the land, in good times and bad, then not just leaving because it’s not a fun time. Going through different seasons and difficult predicaments and embracing all the circumstances of a place and people—that is very different from the voyeuristic mentality of tourism.”

So, can the mentality of tourism shift? Mori’s conclusion also summarizes the sentiments of her colleagues D’Oca, Neri, and Hu: “Going forward from the pandemic, we have to be very wise and conscientious tourists. To get away from tourism as consumption, we have to be open-minded to learn from other people and their environments.”

[1] “Mogao Caves,” UNESCO []. “Ancient City of Ping Yao,” UNESCO [].

  • Sustainability
  • De/constructing Cultural Tourism – Ke Zhan (Traveler’s Rest Stop) Case Study
  • Highways Revisited
  • Between Wilderness and Civilization: Monson, Maine

Roundup: The Future of Travel After the Coronavirus Pandemic

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The Future of Travel After the Coronavirus Pandemic

Travel and tourism will be changed forever. we asked seven leading thinkers for their predictions..

As we enter the first summer of this new era of pandemics, a tenuous easing of travel restrictions has begun. This month, the countries of the European Union will reopen their internal borders, and they plan to allow travel from outside the block some time in July. Singapore and China have begun permitting essential travel between them, but only for passengers who test negative for the coronavirus, use a contact-tracing app, and don’t deviate from their itinerary. Iceland will allow tourists, but it plans to test them for the virus at the airport.

Grounded for many months, airlines are beefing up their summer schedules—though the number of flights will be a fraction of their pre-pandemic frequency. Airports are still mostly ghost towns (some have even been taken over by wildlife ), and international long-distance travel is all but dead. Around the globe, the collapse of the tourist economy has bankrupted hotels, restaurants, bus operators, and car rental agencies—and thrown an estimated 100 million people out of work.

With uncertainty and fear hanging over traveling, no one knows how quickly tourism and business travel will recover, whether we will still fly as much, and what the travel experience will look like once new health security measures are in place. One thing is certain: Until then, there will be many more canceled vacations, business trips, weekend getaways, and family reunions.

To look beyond the summer and help us think about how the pandemic will permanently change the way we travel, Foreign Policy asked seven prominent experts to look into their crystal balls.— Stefan Theil, deputy editor

The Collapse in Travel Will Bring Long-Term Changes

By James Crabtree, associate professor in practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and the author of The Billionaire Raj

Just as mass unemployment leaves indelible scars on labor markets, so the current global travel collapse will bring long-term changes to patterns of international movement for both business and pleasure. Countries with strong pandemic records will deploy them as tourism marketing strategies: Discover Taiwan!

Airlines and hoteliers hope nascent “travel bubbles”—small groups of countries reopening borders only among themselves—and “green lanes” for pre-screened travelers, such as those with antibodies showing immunity to COVID-19, will allow a gradual re-opening. They also hope that roughly normal travel will then resume next year. More likely is that a new system of interlocking safe zones will operate for the foreseeable future, or at least until a vaccine is widely deployed.

Travel will normalize more quickly in safe zones that coped well with COVID-19, such as between South Korea and China, or between Germany and Greece. But in poorer developing countries struggling to manage the pandemic, such as India or Indonesia, any recovery will be painfully slow.

All this will change the structure of future global travel. Many will opt not to move around at all, especially the elderly. Tourists who experiment with new locations in their safe zones or home countries will stick to new habits. Countries with strong pandemic records will deploy them as tourism marketing strategies—discover Taiwan! Much the same will be true for business, where ease of travel and a new sense of common destiny within each safe zone will restructure investment along epidemiological lines.

The Pandemic Caused Us to Fast-Forward Into the Future

By Vivek Wadhwa, fellow at Harvard Law School, associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and co-author of From Incremental to Exponential: How Large Companies Can See the Future and Rethink Innovation, forthcoming in September

Over the past month, I’ve spent time with more CEOs than I would meet in a year. They were relaxed, engaged, and attentive. We could brainstorm on ideas for them to reinvent their companies without having gatekeepers or naysayers torpedo the discussions. These were the most productive talks I’ve had with C-level executives—and as you may have guessed, this was all done from the comfort of our homes. Our business meetings, family vacations, and leisure activities will increasingly move into virtual worlds.

Two months ago, it would have been inconceivable to be meeting over Skype or Zoom; now it is the norm. The pandemic caused us to fast-forward ten years into the future and there is no turning back. This is the way a lot of business communications will stay.

We may not realize it, but the videoconferencing technologies we are using are right out of science fiction. Remember the TV series The Jetsons? We now have the videophones that George and Judy used.

The next leap forward will come from virtual reality, which is advancing at breakneck speed and will take us by surprise. Our business meetings, family vacations, and leisure activities will increasingly move into virtual worlds. A trip to Tahiti or Mars, perhaps? The holodecks from Star Trek are on their way.

Travel Could Become Unaffordable for Many

By Elizabeth Becker, the author of Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

Overnight, much of the world went from over-tourism to no tourism. Since then, locals have seen how their lives have improved without those insane crowds: clear skies with vistas stretching for miles, a drastic reduction of litter and waste, clean shorelines and canals, and a return of wildlife. Whatever our income level, travel will take a greater slice of our disposable income.

But business after business went broke without those tourists, revealing how much the global economy depends on non-stop travel. The economic devastation will mean far fewer people can afford to travel. Whatever our income level, travel will take a greater slice of our disposable income.

So be prepared for two dramatically different trends.

Some national and local governments will redesign their tourism strategies to keep down crowds, keep more money in the local economy, and enforce local regulations including those protecting the environment. Many health protocols will become permanent.

Other governments will compete for the shrinking tourist dollar by racing to the bottom, allowing the travel industry to regulate itself, using deep discounts to fill hotels and airplanes and revive over-tourism.

Smart travelers will trust places with good governance and health systems. They will take fewer trips and stay longer. They will see this pandemic as a forecast of what’s to come from the climate crisis. They will act like responsible citizens as well as passionate travelers.

The Freedom to Travel Is Vital to the Post-Pandemic Recovery

By Alexandre de Juniac, the director-general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and a former CEO of Air France-KLM

It’s too early for long-term predictions, but when the first travelers return to the skies, they will find measures that have become commonplace adapted to flying: reduced personal contact, enhanced sanitization, temperature checks, and social distancing. And where sufficient distance isn’t possible—onboard aircraft or in airports—masks will be required. Measures that have become commonplace will be adapted to flying: reduced personal contact, enhanced sanitization, temperature checks, and social distancing.

Within days of 9/11—the last great inflection point for aviation—flying resumed securely. But two decades later, we are still ironing out some of the inconsistencies and inefficiencies of security procedures. This time, months of being mostly grounded have given the airline industry more time to plan and prepare.

With the support of IATA and others, the International Civil Aviation Organization developed a global restart plan to keep people safe when traveling. Restart measures will be bearable for those who need to travel, with universal implementation the priority. It will give governments and travelers the confidence that the system has strong biosafety protections. And it should give regulators the confidence to remove or adjust measures in real time as risk levels change and technology advances.

The freedom to travel will be vital to the post-pandemic recovery. My hope is that we will come out of the crisis with a better passenger experience by moving people through airports more efficiently and increasing confidence in health safety. I am optimistic that this will be a winning result for travelers, governments, the airline industry, and the economy.

We Forgot How Fundamental Travel Was to Modern Life

By James Fallows, a staff writer for The Atlantic and the co-author, with Deborah Fallows, of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America

Because the process of travel was so routine and often so aggravating, people of the pre-pandemic era rarely concentrated on how fundamental that process—high-volume, high-speed, relatively low-cost human movement—was to the very idea of being modern. What might be lost with a long interruption in easy-connectedness is only now becoming evident.

Students took it for granted that they could aspire to an academic program in a different region, country, or continent—and still go back to visit their families. People who had emigrated permanently, or left their countries for a few years of work or adventure, knew that their homeland was still in relatively quick reach. Children saw their grandparents up close. Families could gather for weddings, births, graduations, funerals. Businesspeople from remote locations went to conventions and conferences to make deals and coordinate plans. The world’s cultural and touristic attractions became open to people from all corners of the globe. For Americans, air travel and international exposure were once such rarities that the now-absurd-sounding term “jet set” actually meant something when it was coined in the 1950s. The commodification of travel allowed people of ordinary means to compose a “bucket list” of sights they wanted to see—and to assume they’d be able to.

Before the lockdown, it was easy to recite all the harm mass travel had done, from the throngs overwhelming Venice or Machu Picchu to the standardization of hotel-and-airport life worldwide. What might be lost with a long interruption in easy-connectedness is only now becoming evident.

There Will Be a Boom in Domestic Travel

By Rolf Potts, the author of four books, including the bestselling travel-philosophy primer Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel

One startling detail about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is that areas with concentrated outbreaks are called hot spots—which is exactly the same phrase the commercial travel industry has used to denote popular and fashionable destinations. This uncomfortable parallel reminds us that travel, in our globalized era, enabled the spread of the virus in a historically unprecedented way. I doubt the desire to go to so-called hot spots or top-ten-list destinations will drive the next wave of travel.

For many people, travel is synonymous with vacations—and that’s fine, but somehow I don’t see vacationers as the model for post-pandemic travel. A constant source of travel headlines in recent years has been tourist overcrowding in places such as Venice and Bali, and I doubt the desire to go to so-called hot spots or top-ten-list destinations will drive the next wave of travel. It will be the desire simply to go, and to figure things out along the journey. Think road trip or backpacking adventure, not package tour.

No doubt the new world of travel will see a boom in domestic travel. Many will go by van or recreational vehicle—and that makes sense, given that one is a lot more self-contained when one travels that way. International travel will also return—and it will be pioneered not just by savvy backpackers and independent travelers going on their own pace and seeing how the journey plays out, but also by working-class folks around the world seeking out family back home, whether that’s in Nigeria, Ecuador, or Poland.

We Will Keep Traveling Because Curiosity Cannot Be Expunged

By Pico Iyer, the author of 15 books that have been translated into 23 languages, most recently Autumn Light and A Beginner’s Guide to Japan

For all our good intentions, we are creatures of habit—and of increasingly diminished attention spans. And COVD-19 has reminded us how little we can confidently say about tomorrow, or even tonight. But my suspicion is that, for better and worse, we will be traveling—and living and making predictions—in June 2021 much as we did in June 2019. For better and worse, we will be traveling in June 2021 much as we did in June 2019.

To some extent, we have to. I was obliged to take three flights in the middle of the pandemic, from Osaka to Santa Barbara, where my 88 year-old mother had just emerged from hospital. A few weeks earlier, I had to fly from Japan to California—for a day—for a public event to which I had long been contractually committed. It would be a blessing for the environment if we all traveled less. And anxiety about travel will be greater next season, and prices higher. But globalism, having spread from person to person for so long, cannot be reversed. Cultural curiosity cannot be expunged. My trips to North Korea have shown me what happens when people cannot get to see the world first-hand.

This article is part of Foreign Policy’s ongoing series about the world after the COVID-19 pandemic. Other installments include:

How the Global Order Will Be Changed Forever by John Allen, Nicholas Burns, Laurie Garrett, Richard N. Haass, G. John Ikenberry, Kishore Mahbubani, Shivshankar Menon, Robin Niblett, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Shannon K. O’Neil, Kori Schake, Stephen M. Walt

How the Economy Will Look After the Pandemic by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Robert J. Shiller, Gita Gopinath, Carmen M. Reinhart, Adam Posen, Eswar Prasad, Adam Tooze, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Kishore Mahbubani

How Urban Life Will Be Transformed by Richard Florida, Edward Glaeser, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Kiran Bedi, Thomas J. Campanella, Chan Heng Chee, Dan Doctoroff, Bruce Katz, Rebecca Katz, Joel Kotkin, Robert Muggah, Janette Sadik-Khan

The Future of Government by James Crabtree, Robert D. Kaplan, Robert Muggah, Kumi Naidoo, Shannon K. O’Neil, Adam Posen, Kenneth Roth, Bruce Schneier, Stephen M. Walt, Alexandra Wrage

The Future of Entertainment, Culture, and Sports by Audrey Azoulay, Rahul Bhatia, Rick Cordella, Mark C. Hanson, Baltasar Kormakur, Jonathan Kuntz, David Clay Large, James S. Snyder

The Future of Schools and Universities by Arne Duncan, Andreas Schleicher, Mona Mourshed, Jennifer Nuzzo, Ludger Woessmann, Salvatore Babones, Davesh Kapur, Michael D. Smith, Dick Startz

How Life in Our Cities Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic is transforming urban life. We asked 12 leading global experts in urban planning, policy, history, and health for their predictions.

How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic will change the world forever. We asked 12 leading global thinkers for their predictions.

How the Economy Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic will change the economic and financial order forever. We asked nine leading global thinkers for their predictions.

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How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

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Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic.

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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The World We Want to Live in After COVID

By Dhruv Khullar

Illustration of a plant growing in the crater shaped like coronavirus

In 1909, the French ethnographer Arnold van Gennep published a book called “ The Rites of Passage .” In it, he explored the rituals that cultures use to transition people from one stage of life to the next. Birth, puberty, graduation, religious initiation, marriage, pregnancy, promotions, the seasons—we’re always on the threshold of one phase or another. How do communities shepherd individuals from the pre- to the post-?

Van Gennep argued that certain universal principles underlie rites of passage across cultures and eras. First, there’s the “pre-liminal” phase, in which “rites of separation” detach individuals from their earlier thoughts, feelings, and perspectives: the Old You dies. Next comes the “liminal” phase, a volatile interregnum that’s simultaneously disorienting and ambiguous, destructive and constructive, during which “rites of transition” open up the possibility of a new and different future. Finally, in the “post-liminal” phase, the “rites of incorporation” allow one to reënter society somehow changed. A New You is inaugurated. “Life itself means to separate and to be reunited, to change form and condition, to die and to be reborn,” van Gennep wrote. “It is to act and to cease, to wait and to rest, and then to begin acting again, but in a different way.”

Van Gennep’s observations were a landmark in the nascent field of anthropology. “Elements of ceremonial behavior were no longer the relics of former superstitious eras,” the anthropologists Richard Huntington and Peter Metcalf later wrote, but “keys to a universal logic of human social life.” In the century since, scholars have applied van Gennep’s framework not just to individuals but to societies in times of turmoil and transformation. Famines, wars, political revolutions, economic downturns, civil-rights movements—societies, too, move from one way of life to another, often experiencing intense periods of renunciation, restructuring, and rebirth.

2020, when the pandemic began, was a pre-liminal year—a headlong, vaccine-less descent away from normality and into calamity. We were torn from our established ways, undergoing separation, loss, and upheaval. 2021 was a liminal year—neither here nor there, not quite normal but not wholly abnormal, either. The inauguration of Joe Biden , the widespread availability of vaccines, and the return of weddings, dining, travel, and sports all coexisted alongside vaccine holdouts, breakthrough infections, new variants, booster shots, and regional surges.

Today, Omicron might make it feel as though we’re still squarely in the liminal phase. But, in fact, we may soon be tipping into a post-liminal paradigm. Omicron’s extraordinary contagiousness—combined with rising vaccination and booster rates—could mean that, in the coming months, nearly all Americans will have some level of immunity to COVID . Repeat infections and breakthrough cases will still occur, but, as our individual and collective immunity broadens, these will become milder and less disruptive. The influenza pandemics of the twentieth century each lasted around two years; now, twenty-one months into our battle with the coronavirus, Omicron is accelerating what could be this pandemic’s final chapter. It’s becoming possible to ask, and perhaps answer, some broad questions: Where will we end up in our attitudes toward ourselves and the social web in which we live? Who will we be on the other side of our transition?

The coronavirus crisis is first and foremost a health crisis, and many of the most obvious changes in our attitudes have to do with health. Some of us have come to reflect more regularly on our age and medical conditions. We’ve gained familiarity with obscure scientific jargon, from PCR tests to mRNA. We meditate on the trade-offs involved in social events, examine the threats we pose to others (and vice versa), and judge people for their choices. Americans differ hugely on what to think and do about all this—the behavior of people in one community can seem unfathomable to those in another—but, at least for now, health has shifted from a narrow individual consideration to a more expansive, social one. Going to work, attending a concert, hosting a dinner party, boarding a flight—if you have a cough, a fever, or just the sniffles, these activities now carry an ethical dimension. Will this remain true after the acute threat of COVID -19 has subsided? We may return to inflicting colds, flus, and various G.I. bugs on one another—or, possibly, we’ll adopt some version of the physician’s oath to do no harm.

The sense that making others sick is an action we’ve taken—and that, conversely, it’s within our power to avoid becoming agents of contagion—reflects a more general paradox of the pandemic. Since COVID arrived, we’ve been both powerless and empowered. Many aspects of our lives have been changed by events beyond our control; at the same time, we have sometimes been pushed to make consequential decisions and chart our own course. Over the past two years, for instance, Americans have quit their jobs in record numbers; in some cases, they’ve been forced to do so—perhaps by medical vulnerability, or unprecedented disruptions in schooling—while, in others, the pandemic’s chaos presented an opportunity to reëvaluate priorities. Regardless, faced with historical circumstances, they made big changes. In this crisis, as in many rites of passage, we don’t just passively recite our lines; we write them, taking vows that may reverberate for decades.

One of the questions we face now is whether we can make such changes on a social level, in addition to an individual one. The pandemic’s school disruptions are the result not just of a novel virus but of years of underinvestment that have yielded underpaid teachers, crowded classrooms, and poorly ventilated buildings. We’ve seen the same pattern in many aspects of our pandemic experience. Decades of investment in basic science allowed American scientists to race from genomic sequencing to an effective COVID vaccine in less than a year—but, during the same period, a public-health system that had been neglected for decades hampered our ability to contain the virus at every turn. We’ve made real changes in our lives. Can we make them in our society, too, building capacity so that our institutions can be more resilient and flexible?

The pandemic has posed similar questions for the world as a whole. COVID -19 struck during the seventy-fifth anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and arrived at a moment characterized by a sharp rise in nationalism and a broadening skepticism about the international arrangements that have governed since the Second World War. Even before the virus, the multilateral system of international coöperation was fraying. After the 2008 financial crisis, Americans had grown increasingly suspicious of globalization and frustrated by their leaders’ failure to address its consequences: inequality, job displacement, social atomization. Now the coronavirus has shown that globalization moves not just goods and people across borders but pathogens, too.

In March, the National Intelligence Council released a report arguing that, in the coming years, the world will face global crises—pandemics, extreme-weather events, technological disruptions—with growing frequency. At the same time, greater international fragmentation and tension will impede our ability to respond to them. The report outlined several possible futures. In the optimistic scenario, called the “renaissance of democracies,” the world settles into a new equilibrium characterized by technological progress, rising incomes, and responsive democratic governance, led by the U.S. and its allies. In another future, “a world adrift,” the international system is “directionless, chaotic, and volatile”; global problems are largely ignored, and multilateral institutions lose their influence.

At a global level, as at the national one, the health crisis of the pandemic has put another preëxisting crisis into sharper relief. Effective pandemic response requires coördination across nations; this is the work of the World Health Organization, of which America has long been the largest funder. In 2019, the U.S. contributed more than four hundred million dollars to the W.H.O., but in April, 2020, Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would stop its funding. For much of the year, the U.S. also declined to join COVAX , the world’s primary global vaccine-distribution mechanism. Today less than nine per cent of people in low-income countries have received a single dose of a COVID vaccine; the rise of ever more concerning variants, such as Delta and Omicron, is due, in part, to a failure of the U.S. and other wealthy countries to vaccinate the world.

Recently, the G-20—a forum comprising nineteen nations and the European Union, which together account for ninety per cent of the world’s economic output—proposed key steps for strengthening the global response to future infectious threats: higher and more consistent funding for the W.H.O.; greater collaboration between governments and the W.H.O. on data collection, humanitarian support, and vaccine development; and the establishment of global norms for the reporting of emerging pathogens. Will countries unite in making such changes? That depends, in large part, on their willingness to act multilaterally—to see that their own security is interwoven with the security of others. It’s an issue that’s larger than the virus. COVID -19, like the Second World War, has created a hinge in the history of the world, which could swing either toward greater cohesion or toward disarray.

In 1954, a researcher named Muzafer Sherif conducted what would become one of the most famous experiments in social psychology. Sherif was interested in the dynamics of group conflict: how easily loyalties form; how little it takes for rival factions to quarrel; what, if anything, can be done to repair relations. As my colleague Elizabeth Kolbert wrote recently, in a piece on political polarization , Sherif invited twenty-two fifth-grade boys to a summer camp at Robbers Cave State Park, in southeastern Oklahoma. The boys were all white, from middle-class, Protestant, two-parent households. Sherif and his team divided them into two groups, each unaware that the other was housed in a cabin at another end of the camp. In the first phase of the study, lasting about a week, the groups, which named themselves the Eagles and the Rattlers, bonded over shared interests and activities—hiking, swimming, a treasure hunt with a ten-dollar reward. In the second phase, the groups were brought together in a series of zero-sum competitions: baseball, tug-of-war, touch football. The researchers, who doubled as camp counsellors, orchestrated hijinks. One group was delayed in arriving at a picnic; when they got there, they were led to believe that the other group had eaten their food. Tensions rose. The Eagles burned the Rattlers’ flag; the Rattlers raided the Eagles’ cabin. Researchers had to step in to break up fights. Division had set in.

The goal of the third phase was to defuse the animosity. As a first step, the researchers organized a series of noncompetitive activities. The boys shared meals, watched a movie together, and celebrated the Fourth of July. Little changed. Only when the campers were given tasks requiring collaboration on a common endeavor—restarting a stalled food truck, pitching a tent with missing supplies, raising money for a movie night—did conflict decline. In the end, one group bought the other malted milk.

The findings of the Robbers Cave experiment have become a staple of undergraduate seminars and psychology textbooks. But they appear not to apply to our current moment. Never before has it been so clear that our work, behavior, and fates are inextricably linked to those around us. Working together to control the virus should have been the ultimate shared goal. And yet, facing viral invasion, Americans couldn’t agree not to sneeze on one another. While fighting the pandemic, America has remained one of the world’s most polarized nations.

It turns out that the Robbers Cave experiment doesn’t tell the whole story. As Gina Perry explains in her book “ The Lost Boys ,” Sherif had conducted a near-identical experiment the year before, in 1953. He’d invited a similar cohort of boys to a camp in upstate New York and divided them into groups: the Panthers and the Pythons. The researchers had carried out a similar series of conflict-generating shenanigans: they’d stolen clothes, ransacked tents, and broken a boy’s ukulele. This time, however, the boys caught on—they realized that they were being manipulated. Instead of fighting one another, they turned on the adults. “Maybe you just wanted to see what our reactions would be,” one boy suggested to a researcher. ​​One of the groups decided that their clothes must have gone missing because of a laundry mishap; both sides worked together to restore an overturned tent. As the experiment unravelled, Sherif began drinking heavily. He grew so despondent that he nearly punched a research assistant in the face. The experiment was stopped early; Sherif never published the findings.

In an era of social-media virality, cable-news punditry, and political celebrity, we, too, are being manipulated. The ire we direct at one another is, at least in part, a result of forces that aim to extract political or financial gain by stoking division and appealing to our basest instincts. Despite knowing better, people in power traffic in half-truths, adding to the cacophony of conflict. They reflect our discord but also create it. We don’t yet know what post-liminal life looks like—but recognizing that truth may be the first step to healing the divide.

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How to plan your first post-pandemic trip

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

The ability to travel is just one of the many luxuries temporarily suspended as the novel coronavirus outbreak continues its spread around the world . For now, we’ve been tasked with putting travel plans on hold and staying home to “flatten the curve.”

But although experts are uncertain whether summer travel will be possible, not all future travel is off the table.

Follow all of our coronavirus coverage

“I’m reminding people this thing is not forever,” says Robert Reiner, a psychologist and executive director at Behavioral Associates . “It has a beginning, a middle and an end.”

In the meantime, we can daydream and use these tips to start planning that glorious first post-pandemic vacation.

Use trip-planning as a coping mechanism, but be flexible

According to Reiner, there are two crises going on during this pandemic: a biological one (the coronavirus outbreak) and a psychological one ( coronavirus anxiety , economic uncertainty and social isolation, among other issues).

Trip-planning can be a way to give yourself something to look forward to and provide an uplifting distraction from immediate pandemic problems. However, there are caveats. You’ll set yourself up for more stress if you finalize a trip too early. The outbreak could cancel it.

“Right now, especially with people’s spirits so low, structuring something that you are excited about is a great thing, as long as you understand the fact that it might not happen,” Reiner says.

How to secure a refund for a flight canceled due to coronavirus, according to the experts

As you start connecting your travel dots, remember that we can’t travel now, and stay-at-home orders as well as and restrictions aren’t predictable. You may want to keep staying home, even when travel technically becomes allowed.

Reopening dates “do not mean that it will be safe to travel then,” says Adam Goldstein, the co-founder and former CEO of the now-shuttered travel aggregation site Hipmunk. “And will it be ethical to travel then? Even if you’re technically allowed to — which I think in some states you still are — if you don’t need to, you shouldn’t, because you might be an asymptomatic [covid-19] carrier.”

So instead of planning for summer trips, think long-term, perhaps even into 2021.

“Because companies are so lenient with their cancellation policies right now, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look at” travel opportunities, says Misty Belles, the managing director of global PR for Virtuoso, a network of agencies specializing in luxury and experiential travel. “The escapism of being able to look and dream, and think about what you want to do, is ideal.”

5 classes you can take while isolating to be a better traveler in the future

Window-shop for travel online

If you don’t have a specific trip in mind, start fresh. Dedicate some of your screen time to hunting for your next destination.

For example, try using special tools on Kayak , Hopper and Skyscanner that show users the cheapest flights in the world from your home airport at any given time. You may spot affordable routes that lead to your next trip, big or small.

To put entirely new-to-you international destinations on your radar, sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights to get alerts on handpicked flight deals.

Travelers can also browse By The Way’s City Guides , each written by a local writer in that destination, and the Instagram page for domestic and international trip inspiration.

Be intentional with your future travel plans

As you’re browsing, consider what you want out of your next trip. Think about those you’ve already taken, and what experiences were the most meaningful, memorable or disappointing.

“This is this rare moment where the entire travel industry and travelers get a pause and a complete reset, which is something we’ve never had before,” says Konrad Waliszewski, CEO and co-founder of TripScout , a travel planning and entertainment platform.

The latest flexible policies at major airlines in the wake of coronavirus

After the pandemic, Waliszewski wants to travel somewhere new to him on every level.

“I’m going to pick a place that’s just a lot further away, literally and figuratively,” he says. “I’m just going to read about it now, watch any documentary or movie about it.”

Dive into the details

Researching beyond basic trip logistics can help us luxuriate in the experience of trip planning.

“The trip-planning is an extension of the trip itself,” Waliszewski says. “It’s a great way to be entertained at home.

In addition to reading books and watching movies about your future destination, he recommends reading about the culture and history of a place, and following locals on Instagram, from chefs to journalists to artists.

Following chefs on Instagram to find restaurants on the road is a trick chefs use when they travel.

How to use Instagram to plan your vacation

“You find people that you like or trust their taste — even though that may be completely arbitrary — and just go for it,” Pok Pok’s chef and owner Andy Ricker said of following chefs on Instagram.

Once you find chefs or other interesting locals to follow, save any of their relevant posts in a folder under your Instagram “Saved” photos for easy access before or on your trip.

Organize your research

As you amass a list of places to see, restaurants you’d like to eat at and museums you’d like to explore, save them on Google Maps so they’re handy.

Star points of interest in Google Maps or create location-specific lists if you want to feel more organized. When your trip approaches, download that map so it’s available even when you don’t have Internet access or cell service.

Other tools can help log your trip research, like Pinterest boards, Google Docs or spreadsheets, and maps on Waliszewski’s TripScout. Try apps like Roadtrippers for organizing road trips or Packpnt if you want to get an extremely early jump on your packing list.

Your normal life routine might not have allowed for such deep dives into all of the eating, drinking and sightseeing opportunities that travel offers. Although the pandemic has taken away much, it has given us time — to really prepare for the next trip and appreciate the travel memories we already have.

As Waliszewski put it, the pandemic is “making me just so grateful for having the opportunity to have traveled in the first place.”

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places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay


Life after Covid: will our world ever be the same?

From cities, to science, to politics, six Observer writers assess how a post-pandemic world will emerge into a new normal

  • Coronavirus – latest updates
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Here are some things that the pandemic changed. It accustomed some people – those whose jobs allowed it – to remote working . It highlighted the importance of adequate living space and access to the outdoors. It renewed, through their absence, an appreciation of social contact and large gatherings. It showed up mass daily commuting for the dehumanising drain on energy and resources that it is.

These changes do not add up to the abandonment of big cities and offices predicted by more excitable commentaries, not a future of rural bubbles and of tumbleweed blowing through the City of London, but a welcome shift in priorities. There will always be millions who want to live in cities and millions who want to live in towns and villages, but there are also those for whom these are borderline decisions, with pros and cons on each side.

These decisions might be based on life changes, such as having children. If you no longer have to go to an office daily, you can live further from the city in which it is placed. If the magic spell of the big city, which kept people in the tiny and expensive flats that now look so inadequate, is broken, then you might consider living in cheaper, more relaxed locations that hadn’t occurred to you before. Those ex-urbanites, still valuing social contact and public life, might seek towns and small cities rather than a lonely cottage in a field.

Such changes could help to address, without the pouring of any concrete or the laying of a brick, the imbalance in the nation’s housing that was at breaking point before Covid. On the one hand there are overheated residential markets in London, Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and elsewhere. On the other there are towns and small cities with good housing stock, an inherited infrastructure of parks and civic buildings and easy access to beautiful countryside, which through their location suffer from underinvestment and depopulation.

This is not to say that no new homes should be built, nor that there won’t be problems with such a shift. It could simply be gentrification, if done wrong, at a national scale. And this vision assumes that Covid passes, and that it is not one of a future series of equally vicious viruses. But there is at least a chance that the travails of 2020 could lead to a saner approach to the places where we live and work. Rowan Moore, Observer architecture critic


The first kiss my baby niece blew me was bittersweet, because like so many pandemic interactions it happened not in person but on camera. Covid means that big chunks of her life have only been seen on a phone screen as she grows into a toddler. And I’m one of the lucky ones: I haven’t had to say goodbye to someone on FaceTime or break the worst news to someone over the phone.

If you live by yourself, you’ve made do without human touch for months on end; if you’re crammed into a small space with your partner, kids and your parents, you may have spent weeks craving time and space not encroached upon by other human beings. Totally different experiences of the same social earthquake: surely they cannot but profoundly change us for the long term?

I’m not so sure. Lockdown, then not-lockdown, then lockdown again have served as a reminder of just how adaptable we are as human beings. I was amazed at how quickly the idea of socialising with friends indoors became a fuzzy memory, then the norm, then distant again. The emotions I felt so acutely back in March – the sharp fear Covid could steal my parents, the communal endeavour of clapping for our carers every Thursday night – soon faded into a new normal, impossible to sustain even though many of the realities have barely changed.

A couple hugging.

The pandemic has underlined the extent to which digital interaction is no substitute for the real thing. In some ways, I’m more in touch with people than ever thanks to the numerous WhatsApp groups that revived themselves into a constant source of company. But tapping away in a couple of group chats while absent-mindedly watching the latest Netflix offering doesn’t come close to the wonderful feeling of hugging a friend, or spending three hours giving someone you haven’t seen for ages your undivided attention over a meal, or of having a conversation based not just on words but physical cues. I doubt the pandemic will seed a long-term distaste for crowds; if anything, I suspect that, if all goes well with the vaccine rollout, summer 2021 will see a crop of riotous street parties and carnivals.

But a return to life as usual will not mask the emotional toll Covid will have had on so many people. People who suffer from anxiety and depression; women in abusive relationships ; children experiencing abuse or neglect at the hands of their parents: they have had it the worst, and their experiences of isolation and loneliness during lockdown could have consequences for their personal relationships that will not magically disappear with a vaccine.

And that is before you factor in the added strain of the intense financial hardship so many are being forced to endure. As a society, recovering from Covid is about much more than antibodies: it cannot happen without support for those who have experienced its worst financial and mental health impacts. Sonia Sodha, the Observer’s chief leader writer

Britain has had an uncomfortable year in its battle to contain Covid. Failures to test, trace and isolate infected individuals allowed grim numbers of deaths to accumulate while deficiencies in the acquisition of stocks of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) left countless health workers exposed to danger and illness. However, these deficiencies have been balanced by the manner and striking speed with which our scientists have turned away from existing projects in order to focus their attentions on ridding us of Covid. Their work has earned global praise for its swiftness and precision.

“The Brits are on course to save the world,” wrote leading US economist Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg Opinion about our scientists efforts last summer while the journal Science quoted leading international researchers who have heaped praise on British anti-Covid work. Science in the UK is perceived, correctly, to have done well in facing up to the pandemic.

A perfect example is provided by the UK’s Recovery trial, a drug-testing programme involving more than 3,000 doctors and nurses who worked with more than 12,000 Covid patients in hundreds of hospitals across the nation – from the Western Isles to Truro and from Derry to King’s Lynn. Set up within a few days of the pandemic reaching the UK, and carried out in intensive care units crammed with seriously ill people, Recovery revealed that one cheap inflammation treatment could save the lives of seriously ill Covid patients while two much-touted therapies were shown to be useless at tackling the disease.

No other country has come close to matching these achievements. “We had the people with the right skills and a willingness to drop everything else and contribute to the effort,” says one of Recovery’s founders, Martin Landray of Oxford University. “That made all the difference.” In a nation which had only recently reviled, openly, the concept of expertise, scientists like Landray have restored the reputation of the wise and the informed.

Fiona Fox, director of the Science Media Centre, also points to the willingness of our scientists to communicate. “Time after time, we have asked for comments from leading researchers, epidemiologists and vaccine experts on breaking Covid stories, and despite being inundated with work, they have taken the time to provide clear analyses that have helped to make sense of rapidly changing developments,” she says. “It has been extraordinary.”

And of course, the arrival of three effective vaccines against a disease that was unknown less than a year ago has only further enhanced the image of the scientist. Yes, they may be a bit geeky sometimes, but they have done a lot to help us win the battle against Covid. Robin McKie, Observer Science Editor

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

It may not feel like it at the moment, admittedly. But if this pandemic echoes other defining events in our recent history, from the 9/11 terror attacks to the 2008-09 banking crash, it will leave the political landscape utterly transformed in some respects yet wearily familiar in others.

Last week’s spending review , spelling out how the cost of battling Covid will shape national life for years to come, was a classic example. A public sector pay freeze, plus benefit cuts next April? Well, we’ve been there before; to many families it will feel like austerity all over again.

What’s different this time, however, is that Boris Johnson insists there’ll be no return to austerity-style spending cuts. Instead, taxes will rise. If he actually goes through with threats to target second-home owners or higher earners’ pensions, expect some mutiny in Tory ranks. (The bitter joke among Tory MPs is that they’re implementing more of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto than Corbyn ever will.) But the door to a long overdue debate about taxing wealth, as well as income, is at least now open.

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern.

The pandemic also seems to be changing what people look for in a leader. The last recession pushed angry, despairing voters towards populists with easy answers; make America great again, take back control. But Covid has been a brutal reminder that in life-and-death situations, competence is everything. Joe Biden isn’t wildly exciting but at least he doesn’t speculate aloud about the merits of drinking bleach. From New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern to Germany’s Angela Merkel and Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon, the leaders whose reputations have been enhanced by this crisis tend to be pragmatists and consensus-seekers, not excitable culture warriors. Keir Starmer’s rising poll ratings suggest a hunger for steady-as-she-goes leadership in Britain too.

Optimists will hope that this collective near-death experience brings a renewed political focus on what actually makes life worth living, from supportive communities to the beauty of a natural world that sustained many through lockdown. Pessimists, however, will worry that calls to “build back better”, or reset society along fairer and greener lines, could be an early casualty of a hard recession that leaves people focussed purely on economic survival.

For it would be naive not to expect a backlash against all of this. Nigel Farage is already trying to whip one up via his new anti-lockdown party , targeting voters angry at having freedoms curtailed. But if the last crash unleashed an era of radicalism and revolt, it’s not impossible this one will leave people craving a quiet life. After such turmoil, don’t underestimate the longing to get back to normal, even if the normal we once knew is gone. Gaby Hinsliff, Guardian columnist

We know that the spaces from which “culture” emerges won’t look the same after 2020 as they did before. Many theatres, bookshops, music venues and galleries won’t survive the catastrophe of shutdown, and if they do emerge it will be with diminished resources. But what about the attitude and the focus of creativity. Will it be shadowed by the pandemic post-vaccine or will it celebrate liberation?

Portrait of a young TS Eliot.

History suggests both. The terrible mortality, social distancing and economic hardship resulting from the 1918-19 Spanish flu epidemic that followed the war were shaping forces in both the doom-laden experiments of modernism and the high hedonism of the jazz age. The Waste Land and the Charleston emerged within months of each other. TS Eliot wrote much of the former while suffering from the after-effects of the influenza, haunted, as his wife Vivienne noted, by the fear that as a result of the virus, “his mind is not acting as it used to do”. Certainly, that poem’s most memorable lines, with their stress on the mass gathering, read more pointedly from our current vantage point: “Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,/ A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,/ I had not thought death had undone so many./ Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,/ And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.”

But, contrarily, the spirit of the post-pandemic age was equally alive in the bathtub-gin excitement of the Cotton Club, and the rarefied decadence of the Bright Young Things: raucous celebrations of seize-the-day freedoms after the misery of war and virus.

Not much literature or music that directly responds to the current pandemic has yet emerged. Zadie Smith’s brief book of essays , Intimations , hazarded something of what that response might look and sound like. In a memorable phrase, she described the events of this year as “the global humbling”. That moment when we collectively realised that the confident certainties of what we used to call “normal life” were only ever a heartbeat away from unknown threats – and that the US, Smith’s adopted home, having led the world in many things, was now leading the world in death.

Will such experience engender a new and deepening age of anxiety in the books we read and the films we watch? No doubt that apprehension of apocalypse, of environmental emergency, that draws us to The Road or to Chernobyl will become more insistent. But as Eliot also noted, humankind “cannot bear very much reality”. After this year in which the young have been denied so many of their rites of passage – chances to sing, dance, drink or love – we can surely hope for a post-viral creative outpouring of all those things that make us most happy to be alive. Tim Adams, Observer writer

”Imagine there’s no commuting, it’s easy if you try”, is a popular refrain in discussions of the post-Covid world of work predicting the imminent demise of the office. Sometimes it’s combined with the claim that low-earning hospitality and leisure jobs that have dried up mid-pandemic won’t be coming back and so shouldn’t get support now.

These different predictions are likely to be wrong for the same reason: they pay too much attention to crystal balls, and not enough to rear-view mirrors. Yes, the pandemic itself has meant big changes to the world of work. It has changed where some people (generally higher earners) work while hitting the ability of many lower earners to work at all. But imagining a world without lockdowns is best done by focusing on those pandemic-driven trends that reinforce, rather than run against, patterns visible pre-crisis .

A man sitting on his bed working on a laptop.

So, expect the pandemic’s turbo-charging of retail’s online shift (with Arcadia’s likely administration the latest example) to continue – there will be fewer cashiers and more delivery drivers. But don’t believe the hype on the decline of hospitality and leisure. Workers in those sectors are twice as likely to have lost their jobs or been furloughed as the pandemic has left us spending more on buying things than going out, but the long-term trend is the opposite: hotels and restaurants accounted for a fifth of the pre-pandemic employment surge.

Working from home (or living in the office, as it can feel like) has been the big change for professional Britain. But history warns against the idea that the office is finished. Only one in 20 of us worked entirely remotely pre-crisis. But three times that number worked at home at least one day a week, a trend that was rapidly growing. Hybrid home/office working is the future. But be careful about assuming this transforms Britain’s disgracefully big economic gaps: some will benefit from more choice about where to live but offices in poorer areas, rather than those in central London, may be the ones that end up empty. And remember, we’re only talking about a fraction of the workforce here. Post-Covid, waiters and cleaners won’t be doing their jobs from their spare room or kitchen table.

As well as predicting the future, we should be trying to shape it. Higher pay and more security for the low paid workers who faced the biggest health and economic risks from this crisis would be a good place to start. Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation

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What will the world be like after coronavirus? Four possible futures

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Research Fellow in Ecological Economics, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, University of Surrey

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Simon Mair receives funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.

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Where will we be in six months, a year, ten years from now? I lie awake at night wondering what the future holds for my loved ones. My vulnerable friends and relatives. I wonder what will happen to my job, even though I’m luckier than many: I get good sick pay and can work remotely. I am writing this from the UK, where I still have self-employed friends who are staring down the barrel of months without pay, friends who have already lost jobs. The contract that pays 80% of my salary runs out in December. Coronavirus is hitting the economy badly. Will anyone be hiring when I need work?

There are a number of possible futures, all dependent on how governments and society respond to coronavirus and its economic aftermath. Hopefully we will use this crisis to rebuild, produce something better and more humane. But we may slide into something worse.

I think we can understand our situation – and what might lie in our future – by looking at the political economy of other crises. My research focuses on the fundamentals of the modern economy: global supply chains , wages , and productivity . I look at the way that economic dynamics contribute to challenges like climate change and low levels of mental and physical health among workers . I have argued that we need a very different kind of economics if we are to build socially just and ecologically sound futures . In the face of COVID-19, this has never been more obvious.

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the amplification of the dynamic that drives other social and ecological crises: the prioritisation of one type of value over others. This dynamic has played a large part in driving global responses to COVID-19. So as responses to the virus evolve, how might our economic futures develop?

From an economic perspective, there are four possible futures: a descent into barbarism, a robust state capitalism, a radical state socialism, and a transformation into a big society built on mutual aid. Versions of all of these futures are perfectly possible, if not equally desirable.

You can listen to the audio version of this article .

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Small changes don’t cut it

Coronavirus, like climate change, is partly a problem of our economic structure. Although both appear to be “environmental” or “natural” problems, they are socially driven.

Yes, climate change is caused by certain gases absorbing heat. But that’s a very shallow explanation. To really understand climate change, we need to understand the social reasons that keep us emitting greenhouse gases. Likewise with COVID-19. Yes, the direct cause is the virus. But managing its effects requires us to understand human behaviour and its wider economic context.

Tackling both COVID-19 and climate change is much easier if you reduce nonessential economic activity. For climate change this is because if you produce less stuff, you use less energy, and emit fewer greenhouse gases. The epidemiology of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving. But the core logic is similarly simple. People mix together and spread infections. This happens in households, and in workplaces, and on the journeys people make. Reducing this mixing is likely to reduce person-to-person transmission and lead to fewer cases overall .

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This article is part of Conversation Insights The Insights team generates long-form journalism derived from interdisciplinary research. The team is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects aimed at tackling societal and scientific challenges.

Reducing contact between people probably also helps with other control strategies. One common control strategy for infectious disease outbreaks is contact tracing and isolation, where an infected person’s contacts are identified, then isolated to prevent further disease spread. This is most effective when you trace a high percentage of contacts . The fewer contacts a person has, the fewer you have to trace to get to that higher percentage.

We can see from Wuhan that social distancing and lockdown measures like this are effective . Political economy is useful in helping us understand why they weren’t introduced earlier in European countries and the US.

A fragile economy

Lockdown is placing pressure on the global economy. We face a serious recession . This pressure has led some world leaders to call for an easing of lockdown measures.

Even as 19 countries sat in a state of lockdown, the US president, Donald Trump, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called for roll backs in mitigation measures. Trump called for the American economy to get back to normal in three weeks (he has now accepted that social distancing will need to be maintained for much longer). Bolsonaro said : “Our lives have to go on. Jobs must be kept … We must, yes, get back to normal.”

In the UK meanwhile, four days before calling for a three-week lockdown, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was only marginally less optimistic, saying that the UK could turn the tide within 12 weeks . Yet even if Johnson is correct, it remains the case that we are living with an economic system that will threaten collapse at the next sign of pandemic.

The economics of collapse are fairly straightforward. Businesses exist to make a profit. If they can’t produce, they can’t sell things. This means they won’t make profits, which means they are less able to employ you. Businesses can and do (over short time periods) hold on to workers that they don’t need immediately: they want to be able to meet demand when the economy picks back up again. But, if things start to look really bad, then they won’t. So, more people lose their jobs or fear losing their jobs. So they buy less. And the whole cycle starts again, and we spiral into an economic depression.

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In a normal crisis the prescription for solving this is simple. The government spends, and it spends until people start consuming and working again. (This prescription is what the economist John Maynard Keynes is famous for).

But normal interventions won’t work here because we don’t want the economy to recover (at least, not immediately). The whole point of the lockdown is to stop people going to work, where they spread the disease. One recent study suggested that lifting lockdown measures in Wuhan (including workplace closures) too soon could see China experience a second peak of cases later in 2020.

As the economist James Meadway wrote , the correct COVID-19 response isn’t a wartime economy – with massive upscaling of production. Rather, we need an “anti-wartime” economy and a massive scaling back of production. And if we want to be more resilient to pandemics in the future (and to avoid the worst of climate change) we need a system capable of scaling back production in a way that doesn’t mean loss of livelihood.

So what we need is a different economic mindset. We tend to think of the economy as the way we buy and sell things, mainly consumer goods. But this is not what an economy is or needs to be. At its core, the economy is the way we take our resources and turn them into the things we need to live . Looked at this way, we can start to see more opportunities for living differently that allow us to produce less stuff without increasing misery.

I and other ecological economists have long been concerned with the question of how you produce less in a socially just way, because the challenge of producing less is also central to tackling climate change. All else equal, the more we produce the more greenhouse gases we emit . So how do you reduce the amount of stuff you make while keeping people in work?

Proposals include reducing the length of the working week, or, as some of my recent work has looked at, you could allow people to work more slowly and with less pressure. Neither of these is directly applicable to COVID-19, where the aim is reducing contact rather than output, but the core of the proposals is the same. You have to reduce people’s dependence on a wage to be able to live.

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What is the economy for?

The key to understanding responses to COVID-19 is the question of what the economy is for. Currently, the primary aim of the global economy is to facilitate exchanges of money. This is what economists call “exchange value”.

The dominant idea of the current system we live in is that exchange value is the same thing as use value. Basically, people will spend money on the things that they want or need, and this act of spending money tells us something about how much they value its “use”. This is why markets are seen as the best way to run society. They allow you to adapt, and are flexible enough to match up productive capacity with use value.

What COVID-19 is throwing into sharp relief is just how false our beliefs about markets are. Around the world, governments fear that critical systems will be disrupted or overloaded: supply chains, social care, but principally healthcare. There are lots of contributing factors to this. But let’s take two.

First, it is quite hard to make money from many of the most essential societal services. This is in part because a major driver of profits is labour productivity growth: doing more with fewer people. People are a big cost factor in many businesses, especially those that rely on personal interactions, like healthcare. Consequently, productivity growth in the healthcare sector tends to be lower than the rest of the economy, so its costs go up faster than average .

Second, jobs in many critical services aren’t those that tend to be highest valued in society. Many of the best paid jobs only exist to facilitate exchanges; to make money. They serve no wider purpose to society: they are what the anthropologist David Graeber calls “ bullshit jobs ”. Yet because they make lots of money we have lots of consultants, a huge advertising industry and a massive financial sector. Meanwhile, we have a crisis in health and social care, where people are often forced out of useful jobs they enjoy, because these jobs don’t pay them enough to live .

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Pointless jobs

The fact that so many people work pointless jobs is partly why we are so ill prepared to respond to COVID-19. The pandemic is highlighting that many jobs are not essential, yet we lack sufficient key workers to respond when things go bad.

People are compelled to work pointless jobs because in a society where exchange value is the guiding principle of the economy, the basic goods of life are mainly available through markets. This means you have to buy them, and to buy them you need an income, which comes from a job.

The other side of this coin is that the most radical (and effective) responses that we are seeing to the COVID-19 outbreak challenge the dominance of markets and exchange value. Around the world governments are taking actions that three months ago looked impossible. In Spain, private hospitals have been nationalised . In the UK, the prospect of nationalising various modes of transport has become very real. And France has stated its readiness to nationalise large businesses .

Likewise, we are seeing the breakdown of labour markets. Countries like Denmark and the UK are providing people with an income in order to stop them from going to work. This is an essential part of a successful lockdown. These measures are far from perfect . Nonetheless, it is a shift from the principle that people have to work in order to earn their income, and a move towards the idea that people deserve to be able to live even if they cannot work.

This reverses the dominant trends of the last 40 years. Over this time, markets and exchange values have been seen as the best way of running an economy. Consequently, public systems have come under increasing pressures to marketise, to be run as though they were businesses who have to make money. Likewise, workers have become more and more exposed to the market – zero-hours contracts and the gig economy have removed the layer of protection from market fluctuations that long term, stable, employment used to offer.

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COVID-19 appears to be reversing this trend, taking healthcare and labour goods out of the market and putting it into the hands of the state. States produce for many reasons. Some good and some bad. But unlike markets, they do not have to produce for exchange value alone.

These changes give me hope. They give us the chance to save many lives. They even hint at the possibility of longer term change that makes us happier and helps us tackle climate change . But why did it take us so long to get here? Why were many countries so ill-prepared to slowdown production? The answer lies in a recent World Health Organisation report: they did not have the right “ mindset ”.

Our economic imaginations

There has been a broad economic consensus for 40 years. This has limited the ability of politicians and their advisers to see cracks in the system, or imagine alternatives . This mindset is driven by two linked beliefs:

  • The market is what delivers a good quality of life, so it must be protected
  • The market will always return to normal after short periods of crisis

These views are common to many Western countries. But they are strongest in the UK and the US, both of which have appeared to be badly prepared to respond to COVID-19.

In the UK, attendees at a private engagement reportedly summarised the Prime Minister’s most senior aide’s approach to COVID-19 as “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad”. The government has denied this, but if real, it’s not surprising. At a government event early in the pandemic, a senior civil servant said to me: “Is it worth the economic disruption? If you look at the treasury valuation of a life, probably not.”

This kind of view is endemic in a particular elite class. It is well represented by a Texas official who argued that many elderly people would gladly die rather than see the US sink into economic depression . This view endangers many vulnerable people (and not all vulnerable people are elderly), and, as I have tried to lay out here, it is a false choice.

One of the things the COVID-19 crisis could be doing, is expanding that economic imagination . As governments and citizens take steps that three months ago seemed impossible, our ideas about how the world works could change rapidly. Let us look at where this re-imagining could take us.

Four futures

To help us visit the future, I’m going to use a technique from the field of futures studies. You take two factors you think will be important in driving the future, and you imagine what will happen under different combinations of those factors.

The factors I want to take are value and centralisation. Value refers to whatever is the guiding principle of our economy. Do we use our resources to maximise exchanges and money, or do we use them to maximise life? Centralisation refers to the ways that things are organised, either by of lots of small units or by one big commanding force. We can organise these factors into a grid, which can then be populated with scenarios. So we can think about what might happen if we try to respond to the coronavirus with the four extreme combinations:

1) State capitalism : centralised response, prioritising exchange value 2) Barbarism : decentralised response prioritising exchange value 3) State socialism : centralised response, prioritising the protection of life 4) Mutual aid : decentralised response prioritising the protection of life.

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State capitalism

State capitalism is the dominant response we are seeing across the world right now. Typical examples are the UK, Spain and Denmark.

The state capitalist society continues to pursue exchange value as the guiding light of the economy. But it recognises that markets in crisis require support from the state. Given that many workers cannot work because they are ill, and fear for their lives, the state steps in with extended welfare. It also enacts massive Keynesian stimulus by extending credit and making direct payments to businesses.

The expectation here is that this will be for a short period. The primary function of the steps being taken is to allow as many businesses as possible to keep on trading. In the UK, for example, food is still distributed by markets (though the government has relaxed competition laws). Where workers are supported directly, this is done in ways that seek to minimise disruption of normal labour market functioning. So, for example, as in the UK, payments to workers have to be applied for and distributed by employers. And the size of payments is made on the basis of the exchange value a worker usually creates in the market, rather than the usefulness of their work.

Could this be a successful scenario? Possibly, but only if COVID-19 proves controllable over a short period. As full lockdown is avoided to maintain market functioning, transmission of infection is still likely to continue. In the UK, for instance, non-essential construction is still continuing , leaving workers mixing on building sites. But limited state intervention will become increasingly hard to maintain if death tolls rise. Increased illness and death will provoke unrest and deepen economic impacts, forcing the state to take more and more radical actions to try to maintain market functioning.

This is the bleakest scenario. Barbarism is the future if we continue to rely on exchange value as our guiding principle and yet refuse to extend support to those who get locked out of markets by illness or unemployment. It describes a situation that we have not yet seen.

Businesses fail and workers starve because there are no mechanisms in place to protect them from the harsh realities of the market. Hospitals are not supported by extraordinary measures, and so become overwhelmed. People die. Barbarism is ultimately an unstable state that ends in ruin or a transition to one of the other grid sections after a period of political and social devastation.

Could this happen? The concern is that either it could happen by mistake during the pandemic, or by intention after the pandemic peaks. The mistake is if a government fails to step in in a big enough way during the worst of the pandemic. Support might be offered to businesses and households, but if this isn’t enough to prevent market collapse in the face of widespread illness, chaos would ensue. Hospitals might be sent extra funds and people, but if it’s not enough, ill people will be turned away in large numbers.

Potentially just as consequential is the possibility of massive austerity after the pandemic has peaked and governments seek to return to “normal”. This has been threatened in Germany . This would be disastrous. Not least because defunding of critical services during austerity has impacted the ability of countries to respond to this pandemic .

The subsequent failure of the economy and society would trigger political and social unrest, leading to a failed state and the collapse of both state and community welfare systems.

State socialism

State socialism describes the first of the futures we could see with a cultural shift that places a different kind of value at the heart of the economy. This is the future we arrive at with an extension of the measures we are currently seeing in the UK, Spain and Denmark.

The key here is that measures like nationalisation of hospitals and payments to workers are seen not as tools to protect markets, but a way to protect life itself. In such a scenario, the state steps in to protect the parts of the economy that are essential to life: the production of food, energy and shelter for instance, so that the basic provisions of life are no longer at the whim of the market. The state nationalises hospitals, and makes housing freely available. Finally, it provides all citizens with a means of accessing various goods – both basics and any consumer goods we are able to produce with a reduced workforce.

Citizens no longer rely on employers as intermediaries between them and the basic materials of life. Payments are made to everyone directly and are not related to the exchange value they create. Instead, payments are the same to all (on the basis that we deserve to be able to live, simply because we are alive), or they are based on the usefulness of the work. Supermarket workers, delivery drivers, warehouse stackers, nurses, teachers, and doctors are the new CEOs.

It’s possible that state socialism emerges as a consequence of attempts at state capitalism and the effects of a prolonged pandemic. If deep recessions happen and there is disruption in supply chains such that demand cannot be rescued by the kind of standard Keynesian policies we are seeing now (printing money, making loans easier to get and so on), the state may take over production.

There are risks to this approach – we must be careful to avoid authoritarianism. But done well, this may be our best hope against an extreme COVID-19 outbreak. A strong state able to marshal the resources to protect the core functions of economy and society.

Mutual aid is the second future in which we adopt the protection of life as the guiding principle of our economy. But, in this scenario, the state does not take a defining role. Rather, individuals and small groups begin to organise support and care within their communities.

The risks with this future is that small groups are unable to rapidly mobilise the kind of resources needed to effectively increase healthcare capacity, for instance. But mutual aid could enable more effective transmission prevention, by building community support networks that protect the vulnerable and police isolation rules. The most ambitious form of this future sees new democratic structures arise. Groupings of communities that are able to mobilise substantial resources with relative speed. People coming together to plan regional responses to stop disease spread and (if they have the skills) to treat patients.

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This kind of scenario could emerge from any of the others. It is a possible way out of barbarism, or state capitalism, and could support state socialism. We know that community responses were central to tackling the West African Ebola outbreak . And we already see the roots of this future today in the groups organising care packages and community support . We can see this as a failure of state responses. Or we can see it as a pragmatic, compassionate societal response to an unfolding crisis.

Hope and fear

These visions are extreme scenarios, caricatures, and likely to bleed into one another. My fear is the descent from state capitalism into barbarism. My hope is a blend of state socialism and mutual aid: a strong, democratic state that mobilises resources to build a stronger health system, prioritises protecting the vulnerable from the whims of the market and responds to and enables citizens to form mutual aid groups rather than working meaningless jobs.

What hopefully is clear is that all these scenarios leave some grounds for fear, but also some for hope. COVID-19 is highlighting serious deficiencies in our existing system. An effective response to this is likely to require radical social change. I have argued it requires a drastic move away from markets and the use of profits as the primary way of organising an economy. The upside of this is the possibility that we build a more humane system that leaves us more resilient in the face of future pandemics and other impending crises like climate change.

Social change can come from many places and with many influences. A key task for us all is demanding that emerging social forms come from an ethic that values care, life, and democracy. The central political task in this time of crisis is living and (virtually) organising around those values.

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For you: more from our Insights series :

How to model a pandemic

The end of the world: a history of how a silent cosmos led humans to fear the worst

For a sustainable future, we need to reconnect with what we’re eating – and each other

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Post-COVID-19 Tourists’ Preferences, Attitudes and Travel Expectations: A Study in Guayaquil, Ecuador

Miguel orden-mejía.

1 Facultat de Turisme i Geografia, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43480 Vila-seca, Spain; [email protected]

Mauricio Carvache-Franco

2 Facultad de Turismo y Hotelería, Universidad Espíritu Santo, Samborondón 092301, Ecuador; moc.liamtoh@4172oiciruam

Assumpció Huertas

3 Department of Communication, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, 43002 Tarragona, Spain; [email protected]

Wilmer Carvache-Franco

4 Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanísticas, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, Guayaquil 090615, Ecuador

Nathalie Landeta-Bejarano

5 Carrera de Turismo, Universidad Técnica de Babahoyo, Babahoyo 120102, Ecuador; ce.ude.btu@atednaln

Orly Carvache-Franco

6 Facultad de Especialidades Empresariales, Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil, Guayaquil 090615, Ecuador; moc.liamtoh@hcavraco

Associated Data

Not applicable.

Expectations about a destination influence the tourist experience during the travel process stages. In the post-COVID-19 normalcy, people are adjusting their priorities and social values. Therefore, it becomes crucial to identify tourists’ expectations before traveling. The objectives of this research were: (a) identify the preferences of tourists; (b) establish the attitudes of tourists; and (c) determine the expectations of tourists for post-COVID-19 destination selection. The study analyzed a sample of 491 people during pandemic lockdowns in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Statistical techniques such as exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis were used in data analysis. The results show that after the pandemic, tourists prefer urban tourism, followed by cultural tourism and traveling with relatives. It also shows a more responsible and supportive attitude when traveling. Likewise, the results support the dimensional structure that explains a set of post-pandemic tourist expectations. Five factors were identified: Smart Care, pricing strategy, safety, comfort, and social distancing. Finally, the theoretical and managerial implications of the results that will guide for tourism destination managers were discussed.

1. Introduction

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in December 2019 the first case of coronavirus in Wuhan, China. As of 18 February 2020, the virus had caused more than 2200 deaths, and confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection exceeded 75,740 in the world [ 1 ]. On 31 January 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus an international public health emergency, impacting the global economy, especially the tourism industry. From this perspective, the perception of COVID-19, travel risk and the willingness to change or cancel travel plans increased significantly during the pandemic due to the increase in confirmed cases worldwide [ 2 ]. Other reasons that influenced the slowdown in tourism were the susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, travel restrictions, and bans issued by governments [ 3 ]. Moreover, constant media coverage was the most influential factor in increasing risk perception [ 4 ].

The uncertainty about the future of the tourism industry forces us to rethink the different tourism management scenarios and analyze the impact of the pandemic on the emotional behavior of tourism demand. Hence, COVID-19 becomes a transformative opportunity [ 5 ] for researchers to explore, measure and predict the impacts of COVID-19 on tourism for monitoring and improving response strategies [ 6 ], especially in destinations where they have had a history of high COVID-19 incidences.

Guayaquil, Ecuador was chosen as the research subject in this study. Before the crisis, residents usually made tourism trips to domestic (especially coastal) and international destinations. Being a satellite city, there are various natural and cultural attractions in nearby areas. For this reason, residents practice certain forms of tourism such as: beach tourism, urban or city tourism, cultural tourism, ecotourism, and rural tourism.

Nonetheless, the impact of COVID-19 in Guayaquil was severe, significantly reducing tourist activity. The number of deaths during the coronavirus outbreak is among the worst in the world [ 7 , 8 ]. The global mortality ranking is headed by Guayas (including Guayaquil), according to the Financial Times, data on total deaths show that about 10,200 more people died during the months of March and April of the 2020 than in a typical year; i.e., an excess of deaths from the coronavirus of 485%, ranking with that figure as the city hardest hit by the coronavirus in the world [ 9 ].

On the other hand, academic literature on consumer behavior suggests that pre-purchase expectations determine product/service selection. In a post-pandemic context, it is necessary to deepen the analysis of the attitudes, behaviors and expectations of tourists before deciding to travel to predict future tourist demand and to be able to develop adequate recovery strategies. Therefore, understanding the new characteristics of tourists allows us to guide decision-making and choices of destinations behavior.

However, the current studies are focused mainly on the consequences of coronavirus on remodeling tourism, economic factors and resilience [ 10 ]. There are few studies based on tourist demand, especially consumer’s decision-making behavior [ 11 ]. Therefore, the objectives of this study are: (a) identify the preferences of tourists; (b) establish the attitudes of tourists; and (c) determine the expectations of tourists for post-COVID-19 destination selection.

The study was carried out in the city of Guayaquil, taking as a sample residents who in 2019 had made tourism and leisure trips, whether domestic or international.

The research questions posed by this study for the post-pandemic era are:

  • RQ1: What are the preferences of tourists?
  • RQ2: What are the attitudes of tourists on their trips?
  • RQ3: What are the expectations of tourists?

This work contributes to the emerging literature on the relationship between tourism and crisis [ 6 ]. Specifically, it provides exploratory data on tourists’ expectations towards a destination in a recovery phase. Moreover, the study provides destination management actors with valuable information for planning and managing internal tourism in a post-COVID-19 environment.

2. Literature Review

2.1. tourism and covid-19.

The tourism industry has been one of the economic sectors most affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The health crisis has caused the temporary closure of tourist services worldwide [ 12 ]. Several gastronomy-oriented and food companies have had to declare bankruptcy and closed their establishments completely. Likewise, concerts, (mega)events, festivals, and conferences were cancelled [ 13 ]. Most airlines were forced to reduce or cancel flights due to the coronavirus or government restrictions [ 14 ], as were hotels and tourist accommodation [ 15 ]. Based on the report of The United Nations World Tourism Organization [ 16 ], world tourism experienced an increase of 4% in 2021, compared to 2020 (415 million vs. 400 million). However, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) remained 72% below those of 2019, the year before the pandemic, according to preliminary UNWTO estimates. These are the figures that precede those of 2020, the worst year in the history of tourism when there was a 73% decrease in international arrivals.

COVID-19 triggered an unprecedented crisis compared to other pandemics (Spanish flu of 1918, SARS, MERS, Ebola, or swine flu) or other crises in recent history, such as the terrorist attack of 11 September in the United States [ 17 ]. The COVID-19 virus, in a short period, generated enormous socio-cultural, political, and psychological impacts on various tourism actors, causing an unusual global crisis in our economic systems [ 6 , 18 , 19 , 20 ].

It is important to note that tourism plays an important role in public health [ 21 ], as well as the wellness components of vacations [ 22 ]. Therefore, financial support from governments towards the tourism and health sector is essential to ensure the balanced recovery of tourism. For example, the application of subsidies to promote the consumption of tourism, hotels and leisure, as well as subsidies to the health sector [ 23 ]. That is, recovery strategies must be holistic and innovative rather than direct [ 24 ]. Therefore, governments must increase the budget of the health and tourism sector to offer an adequate and affordable medical care service to its citizens and tourists. However, no policy or strategy works for all countries, because the impact and characteristics are unique in each territory. Mental health mechanisms include nature deprivation, family concerns, travel restrictions, and livelihood losses [ 25 , 26 ].

2.2. Tourist Destination and Types of Tourism

Tourist destinations (DT) are composed of various attributes that significantly affect tourists at different stages. Destination attributes are considered a group of dispersed elements that promote visitors to a destination [ 27 ]. In this sense, Ramón [ 28 ] reported that a tourist destination is a territorial system that integrates primary elements that make up its attractiveness and motivate the trip and secondary elements that facilitate consumption (accommodation, restaurants, and commerce).

A tourist destination is a package of tourist facilities and services that, like any other consumer product or service, comprises several multidimensional attributes that determine its attractiveness for a particular individual in a given situation [ 29 ].

Mayo and Jarvis [ 30 ] conceptualized destination attractiveness as related to the traveler decision-making process and traveler-specific benefits. Specifically, they defined destination attractiveness as a combination of the relative importance of individual benefits and the destination’s perceived ability to deliver these unique benefits. Logically, the more visitors believe that a tourist region could meet their vacation needs, the more attractive that destination region will be and the more likely they will select it as a potential travel destination.

Cultural tourism involves learning and experience as well as the consumption of tangible and intangible cultural attractions/products in a tourism destination. Ecotourism involves the observation, experience and appreciation of biological and cultural diversity. Rural tourism involves visitor’s experience related to products generally linked to agriculture, rural lifestyle/culture, angling and sightseeing. Urban/city destinations offer a broad and heterogeneous range of cultural, architectural, technological, social and natural experiences and products for leisure and business. Coastal tourism refers to recreational and sports activities that take place on the shore of a sea, lake or river [ 31 ].

2.3. Tourism Preferences

Tourist preferences are related to multiple travel attributes in terms of transport-accommodation consumption [ 32 ], price sensitivity [ 33 ], hotel and shopping choices [ 34 ], length of stay [ 35 ] and seasonality [ 36 ]. Vacation activity choices and preferences are an important aspect of tourist behavior. They influence tourists’ experiences, their levels of satisfaction, and their happiness with particular destinations [ 37 ]. People’s choices and preferences are shifting toward newer experiential and participatory activities that provide an escape from daily routines [ 38 ]. Therefore, activities at the destination are a crucial consideration in positioning and building destination brands [ 38 ].

For a tourist destination to fulfill its mission of attracting tourists, it is vital to recognize the needs of its potential visitors and discover the key elements that lead tourists to choose between one destination and another. Therefore, understanding tourists’ preferences and travel behavior is essential to develop infrastructure, products and services that satisfy their preferences [ 39 ]. In the context of risk, tourists make destination choices based on their individual perceptions of destination attributes, including risk-associated elements [ 40 ]. Likewise, income level is also a determining factor when selecting a destination, for example, in relation to the motives underlying the selection of destinations, low-income people were highly influenced by factors of “accessibility and discounts” despite the global health emergency [ 41 ]. For academics González-Reverté et al. [ 42 ], tourists with a previous environmental attitude are less interested in visiting mass tourism beach destinations in the future. For this reason, it is necessary to establish what preferences about tourist destinations exist in demand after the health crisis.

2.4. Tourist Attitude

Attitude significantly affects satisfaction [ 43 ]. Therefore, customer attitude is related to business performance [ 44 ]. Attitude generally refers to the number of customers/people (preferred/liked) or (liked/disliked) a particular object (e.g., product or service). It is usually demonstrated as a total evaluation of the objects, and it has been studied broadly in terms of behavior [ 45 ]. Attitude toward customer behavior refers to a “positive” or “negative” tendency to consistently react to certain behaviors, such as product use and product selection, according to research by Quintal et al. [ 46 ] In this sense, Ceylan et al. [ 47 ] and Untaru and Han [ 43 ] showed that consumer purchasing behavior has changed during the pandemic. The current scenario of COVID-19 expresses that the attitude of risk of an outbreak is a critical predictor of clients because the person realizes that entering a public place increases the probability of infection [ 48 ]. Previous economically oriented studies have shown how the COVID-19 crisis has revised dynamic customer reactions and consumption attitudes [ 47 ]. Therefore, in a study by Untaru and Han [ 43 ], in retail stores, customer attitudes towards protective measures have a solid mediating association with customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions, which increased satisfaction customer and return visit rate.

2.5. Tourist Expectations

Expectancy theory is based on various characteristics or attributes intended to be achieved or lead to a particular outcome [ 49 ]. In other words, expectations are preconceived and previously experienced perceptions of a product’s performance or attributes [ 50 ]. In this regard, Larsen [ 51 ] defines expectation as “an individual’s ability to anticipate, form beliefs and predict future events and states”.

Therefore, the tourist expectation is a “preconceived perception of the results of the trip” [ 52 ] built from various sources of information related to the tourist destination [ 53 ]; for example, tourism brochures, websites, and chatbots.

Furthermore, expectations are considered standards against which tourists assess a provider’s performance [ 54 ]. Therefore, the experience in a tourist destination is determined by the tourist’s expectations, the first element of the purchase decision. Thus, potential tourists’ expectations occur in the tourism industry before purchasing any tourism product.

Heung and Quf [ 39 ] depicted these predictions as a set of attributes that describe a place as a travel destination (mental image), and Wang et al. [ 52 ] found that the cognitive/affective image of travelers shapes people’s expectations towards travel destinations. Significantly, satisfaction level, memories, choices, knowledge, and decisions respond to destination image [ 55 ]. Furthermore, a positive image of a destination formed by a synergy of destination attributes (e.g., tourism services and activities, infrastructure, attractions) influences decisions to choose a destination [ 56 ].

Several studies have explored tourists’ expectations. Tolls and Carr [ 57 ] analyzed the expectations of the tourist experience in a horseback riding center around notions of romance, nostalgia, relaxation, and escapism. In contrast, Larsen [ 51 ] argued that tourists’ expectations and in-trip perceptions and memories, shape the tourist experience and the basis for new preferences.

In tourist behavior, Hsu et al. [ 58 ] argued that expectation differently affects attitude, motivation, and loyalty towards a tourist destination [ 59 ]. Along these lines, Tsaur, Lin and Lin [ 60 ] found that the expectations of a memorable experience motivate visitors to participate in tourist activities. Thus, tourists’ expectations may become the reason for the trip.

3. Methodology

3.1. study area.

Guayaquil is located on the coast of Ecuador in South America. It is a city with natural and cultural attractions visited by national and international tourists, confined at the time of COVID-2019. Guayaquil is the main economic city and one of the most populated, with approximately 2.7 million inhabitants [ 61 ], located at Latitude 2°11′41.30″ South and Longitude 79°52′55.77″ West ( Figure 1 ). There are 142 registered accommodation establishments, 6352 rooms, 10,354 beds and with hotel capacity for 12,368 guests [ 62 ]. In this city, the Ministry of Public Health has 93 medical care sites, including health centers (first level), day and general hospitals (second level) and specialty hospitals (third level); while there are 217 private health establishments [ 63 ]. The main causes of death of Guayaquil residents in 2016 were ischemic heart disease (2116 cases) followed by Diabetes Mellitus (1376) (See Figure 1 ).

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Guayaquil city, Ecuador.

Guayaquil is the capital of the Guayas province and offers a wide range of tourist attractions. Its shopping centers, parks, museums and boardwalks are the most visited by travelers who are enchanted by the magic that the so-called “Perla del Pacífico” offers. The Cathedral, the Seminary Park, the Governor’s Palace, the Santa Ana Hill, the Las Peñas neighborhood, the Simón Bolívar Malecón, the Samanes Park, the Guayaquil Historical Park, among others, are the destinations of tourist interest that day to day are visited by thousands of people who come to this cheerful and warm city.

Another alternative is tourism in the Gulf, a new fluvial alternative that articulates the main tourist sites around Guayaquil: Santay Island, Durán Train Station, Simón Bolívar Malecón and Samborondón Historical Park. In this area you can develop nature tourism (fauna and flora observation), active tourism (hiking, cycling), cultural and experiential activities, among others.

3.2. Survey Design

A questionnaire was designed to achieve the objectives. It included two sections: (1) the sociodemographic aspects of the respondents and their preferences for visiting a destination after the health emergency; (2) statements about tourists’ expectations for their next trip to a destination in recovery.

Since this was an exploratory study, an expert discussion elicited a total of 27 items organized into five factors (Smart Care, Pricing Strategy, Safety, Comfort, Social Distancing). All the items had a multiple-item measure, linked on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree: seven items for Smart Care, five items for pricing strategy, five items for safety, five for comfort, five for social distancing conducted an online pilot test (n = 25). Thus, the construction of the items was systematically examined to avoid ambiguous, vague, and unfamiliar terms [ 64 ]. After minor corrections and validation of the questionnaire, the final version was programmed into an online self-administered questionnaire to be completed by the respondents.

3.3. Data Colletion

Guayaquil, the economic capital of Ecuador, was chosen as the research topic in this study. Residents of legal age who had traveled at least once (for leisure or vacation) in 2019 were selected for the sample. If they had not, their response was appreciated and the questionnaire was considered closed. Online surveys collected the data between April and May 2020 during the lockdown. The survey was designed in Google Forms and shared in Guayaquil using the social networks of Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp. The sampling approach was non-probabilistic and applied convenience sampling to find errors and improve the survey. This non-random sampling technique was chosen due to its accessibility and the ease of reaching the respondent. When using this technique, habits, opinions, and points of view can be observed more easily.

Finally, the sample size was 491 valid responses for this study, and the infinite population was used, considering that there is no official number of tourists visiting the destination of Guayaquil. A ±5% margin of error, a confidence level of 95%, and a variance of 50% were used to obtain the most reliable results.

3.4. Data Analysis

Descriptive statistics summarized the data. The SPSS 25 statistical software was used for data analysis:

  • A descriptive analysis was used to identify the participants’ profiles, preferences and attitudes towards a post-COVID-19 tourist destination.
  • An Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) was performed to facilitate the interpretation of the tourist expectation variables through a smaller number of variables or underlying factors.
  • Confirmatory factor analysis was applied to assess the adequacy of the measurements in terms of convergent and discriminant validity.

4.1. Study Simple Profile

Of the 491 responses, most participants were women, and one group was from the LGBT community. Most people were between 21 and 40 years old, 63.7% were single, and 83% had an undergraduate/postgraduate degree (See Table 1 ).

Demographic Profile.

4.2. Preferences for Visits

Respondents would prefer urban tourism, followed by cultural tourism and rural tourism. In addition, most would like to visit a destination with their relatives. Likewise, they would be willing to travel with their partner and friends, and few would travel alone (see Table 2 ).


Results that answer our first research question in the post-pandemic era: What are the preferences of tourists on their next trips? Showing the results that they would prefer urban tourism, followed by cultural tourism and traveling with relatives.

4.3. Travel Attitude

Fifty six percent of the participants mentioned that they would be more responsible and supportive when visiting their next destination in their tourist activities. Likewise, they preferred to visit less crowded destinations (51.2%) to avoid physical interaction with other tourists, thus guaranteeing an adequate distance.

Post-COVID-19 tourists will have a more respectful attitude towards the environment (41.2%). Thus, tourists will be aware of possible impacts on the destination. Potential tourists (39.2%) will be more careful with disinfection and hygiene in the tourist establishments of their destination (see Table 3 ).

Attitude to travel to a destination.

Results that answer our second research question: RQ2: What are the attitudes of tourists on their trips? Evidencing the results that tourists would be more responsible and supportive when visiting their next destination in their tourist activities.

4.4. Exploratory Factor Analysis of Travel Expectations

This study was conducted using participants’ importance ratings regarding expectations of a post-COVID-19 destination. The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure of sample adequacy (MSA, Tokyo, Japan) was applied to determine the factorization of the data [ 65 ]. This paper found the KMO value of the data to be 0.916, indicating that it was excellent at sampling adequacy. Common method variance (CMV) bias was analyzed using Harman’s single factor test [ 66 ]. The results showed that the main factor explained 32.1% of the variance, below the 50% threshold, confirming that the bias is acceptable for data analysis. In addition, the Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient in the final scale of expectations of tourists reached a value of 0.930, which indicates a commendable internal consistency between the items of the scale.

The Bartlett sphericity test was also performed, since some variables have significant correlations [ 44 ]. In this case, the results of the Bartlett test indicate a level of significance ( p ≤ 0.05). Hence, the data are suitable for EFA.

The maximum likelihood method with promax rotation was selected to identify the factor structure in the EFA application and obtain significant and interpretable factors because the object of study is the underlying causal structure of a given domain (expectations).

Data with a factor loading of less than 0.40 were not considered. The analysis was performed on 27 items, which explained 58.2% of the total variance and formed a structure of five dimensions with appropriate values: “Intelligent Care”, “Price Strategy”, “Safety”, “Comfort”, and “Social Distancing” (see Table 4 ).

Exploratory Factor Analysis of Tourists’ expectation (n = 491).

The h 2 : value is the commonality of each. A 5-point Likert-type scale from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree.

According to Table 4 , the first factor called “Smart Care” has the most significant explanatory power (35%) of the total variance. Thus, this factor is related to smart technologies such as chatbots for tour assistants, robots, applications, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The second factor was “Price strategy,” which reached 7.65% of the total variance related to low prices, discounts, and tourist services. For the third factor, “Security,” the results show that it comprised 6.79% of the total variance. This factor is related to protection and care issues contemplated in destinations once tourism is reactivated. The fourth factor, called “Comfort,” obtained 5.32% of the total variance. This factor is related to the intention to visit a destination where tourist activities can be carried out with small groups of people and where the itineraries are short.

In addition, tourists intend to visit a destination that ensures a perception of health and disinfection in tourist services. Therefore, tourists would be interested in service providers having COVID-19-free certification. The last factor, “Social distancing,” comprised 3.35% of the studied variance. This factor is related to social distancing in tourist services and activities and the tourist infrastructure of the destination, which is why they prefer to do tourism in open spaces and with fewer people.

Five factors were revealed: Smart Care, Pricing Strategy, Safety, Comfort, and Social Distancing (see Figure 2 ).

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Tourists’ expectations for a destination in the post-COVID-19 recovery stage.

Results that answer our third research question: RQ3: What are the expectations of tourists on their trips? It is evident that the main expectations of tourists are related to technological factors, biosecurity, and special-offer discounts.

4.5. Construct Validity

Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to test the psychometric properties of the measurement scales. The results confirmed the reliability and convergent validity of the measurement scales. In all cases, Cronbach’s Alpha and composite confidence are above the minimum required values of 0.7, and the AVE coefficients are above 0.5 [ 67 ]. Moreover, all items are significantly associated with their hypothetical factors at a 95% confidence level, and their standardized lambda coefficients are higher than 0.5 [ 68 ], confirming convergent validity. However, the item “Short itineraries (short-term tourist activities)” belonging to the comfort construct had to be eliminated, as it had a coefficient below the threshold (See Table 5 and Figure 3 ).

An external file that holds a picture, illustration, etc.
Object name is ijerph-19-04822-g003.jpg

Confirmatory Factor Analysis (EFA). Maximum Likelihood Procedure.

Scale Items and Confirmatory Factor Analysis result (n = 491).

a SD = Standard Deviation.

Finally, the results presented acceptable general adjustments ( x 2 = 808.871; d f = 287; CMIN/d f = 2.818) at a level ( p = 0.001). Goodness-of-fit indices were substantial (CFI = 0.929; TLI = 0.920; IFI = 0.930; RMSEA = 0.061) CFI, TLI and IFI values greater than 0.90 and an RMSEA value smaller than 0.08 are indicative of a good model fit [ 67 ].

The discriminant validity of the measurement scales was tested following the procedure proposed by [ 69 ], which compares the AVE coefficient for each pair of constructs with the estimated squared correlation between these two constructs. Thus, all constructs demonstrated acceptable discriminant validity because all intra-construct correlations were less than the square root of the AVE for each construct (see Table 6 ).

Result of discriminant validity (Fornell-Larcker).

Note: *** p ˂ 0.001; The square root of AVEs are shown diagonally in bold.

5. Discussion

This study was carried out in the city of Guayaquil and was aimed at identifying the preferences, attitudes, and expectations of residents in planning their trips after the pandemic. The first objective was to identify the preferences of tourists on their trips. The results responding to RQ1 show that tourists would prefer urban tourism, followed by cultural tourism and rural tourism. Moreover, most of them would like to visit a destination with their relatives. The second objective of the present study was to establish the attitudes of tourists. Therefore, responding to RQ2, it has been identified that they would be more responsible and supportive when visiting their next destination in their tourist activities, as pointed out by Cameron and Shah [ 48 ] and Untaru and Han [ 43 ]. Likewise, they preferred to visit less crowded destinations to avoid physical interaction with other tourists, thus guaranteeing an adequate distance.

An interesting finding is that tourists prefer urban tourism in places that respect biosafety standards in less crowded places. It was also found that in coastal cities, tourists prefer urban tourism instead of going to the beaches, which are usually full of tourists [ 42 ].

As a third objective, the present study set out to determine the expectations of tourists for post-COVID-19 destination selection. In this way, the results responding to RQ show that the main expectations of tourists are related to technological factors, biosecurity and special offers and discounts. This study could significantly improve the visitor experience, compared to previous studies [ 51 , 57 , 59 , 60 ]. In this regard, Gretzel et al. [ 70 ] argued that information technology (IT) is the key to understanding the new conditions related to the pandemic on how we manage travel and our daily lives. All these are contributions to the academic literature on tourism in crisis, which until now has been very scarce.

As practical implications, destination managers should create policies that encourage service providers to incorporate Smart Tourism Technologies (STT) such as chatbots, virtual assistants, biometrics (contactless), humanoid robots, augmented reality, AI, drones and sensors in tourist destinations. In addition, implementing these policies in the infrastructure of the destination can minimize physical contact, control social distancing and generate a positive image perception. In this study, chatbots or virtual tourist information assistants are the technologies that best explain the underlying structure of the smart care factor.

Through STT, destinations can (1) manage real-time destination tourism information and (2) achieve two-way communication between tourists and the local Destination Management Organization (DMO) and provide actionable information on destination conditions.

Destination managers and private companies should implement customer pricing strategies, offering discounts on luxury services in hotels and restaurants and having special offers, due to the seasonality of the destination and because these variables will motivate visitors to take their travel decision, especially to a segment of tourists with less income [ 41 ].

Tourist destinations must invest in the expansion (in terms of breadth) of tourist infrastructure and recreation areas to guarantee the factor of social distancing. Likewise, it is essential to have social distancing signs that influence the behavior of tourists and residents. Additionally, it is necessary to generate prevention and distancing protocols in tourist services and activities to improve safety, hygiene and citizen transit.

In terms of safety, tourist destinations must form a management committee made up of representatives of the health, tourism, municipal and provincial secretariats to establish standards for monitoring and control of health protocols before, during and after the use of services and activities.

Tour agencies and operators must manage safe trips (health protocols), offering tour packages with previously certified services and ensuring that their providers implement the relevant health protocols to provide visitors with greater peace of mind during their stay at the destination.

Certified COVID-free destinations could meet the expectations of potential tourists. In addition, managers could implement training programs in sanitation and disinfection of tourist establishments and refresher courses in biosafety protocols to generate an environment under the sanitary requirements that post-COVID-19 tourists will demand.

6. Conclusions

The health system in Ecuador is universal and free. In Guayaquil, hospital care is offered on three levels and 24 h emergencies. For this, the city has modern accredited public hospitals that provide their services to both locals and tourists. There are also private clinics that serve tourists who have purchased international travel insurance.

The results of this research offer essential information. The EFA illustrates the dimensions of the expectations of tourists towards a destination in a recovery stage after COVID-19. This study provides exploratory information on the expectations of tourists about visiting a destination. Destination managers, destination and supply management organizations, and policy makers can benefit from this valuable information by identifying tourists’ expectations for choosing a destination in a post-COVID-19 scenario.

As theoretical implications, a good management of tourist expectations identified in this study could significantly improve the visitor experience, compared to previous studies. The main contribution of the study is the preferences, attitudes and expectations of the people who plan their visit and their travel after the pandemic. Therefore, tourists prefer urban tourism and travel with family members, and are more responsible and supportive. Five dimensions of expectations are evident: Smart Care, Pricing Strategy, Safety, Comfort, and Social Distancing. All of these findings imply a contribution to existing academic theory.

The study shows the temporality of the survey as the main limitation. Due to the confinement stage, the participants’ mental health might have been affected. Thus, the anxiety and trauma caused by the health emergency may have influenced the responses. Finally, future research is essential to address the term “COVID-19 phobia tourism”, which implies the tourist’s fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus during their next trip since it could be a determining factor for tourists when selecting a destination. Likewise, the tourist phobia due to COVID-19 generates new tourist behaviors, which will force destinations to redesign promotion strategies.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H., W.C.-F. and N.L.-B.; methodology, M.O.-M. and A.H.; software M.O.-M. and O.C.-F. validation, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H. formal analysis, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H.; investigation, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H., W.C.-F., N.L.-B. and O.C.-F.; resources, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H., W.C.-F., N.L.-B. and O.C.-F.; data curation, M.O.-M. and M.C.-F.; writing—original draft preparation, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H., W.C.-F., N.L.-B. and O.C.-F.; writing—review and editing, M.O.-M., M.C.-F., A.H., W.C.-F., N.L.-B. and O.C.-F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

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So as the coronavirus pandemic has stretched around the world, it’s sparked a crop of diary entries and essays that describe how life has changed. Novelists, critics, artists, and journalists have put words to the feelings many are experiencing. The result is a first draft of how we’ll someday remember this time, filled with uncertainty and pain and fear as well as small moments of hope and humanity.

At the New York Review of Books, Ali Bhutto writes that in Karachi, Pakistan, the government-imposed curfew due to the virus is “eerily reminiscent of past military clampdowns”:

Beneath the quiet calm lies a sense that society has been unhinged and that the usual rules no longer apply. Small groups of pedestrians look on from the shadows, like an audience watching a spectacle slowly unfolding. People pause on street corners and in the shade of trees, under the watchful gaze of the paramilitary forces and the police.

His essay concludes with the sobering note that “in the minds of many, Covid-19 is just another life-threatening hazard in a city that stumbles from one crisis to another.”

Writing from Chattanooga, novelist Jamie Quatro documents the mixed ways her neighbors have been responding to the threat, and the frustration of conflicting direction, or no direction at all, from local, state, and federal leaders:

Whiplash, trying to keep up with who’s ordering what. We’re already experiencing enough chaos without this back-and-forth. Why didn’t the federal government issue a nationwide shelter-in-place at the get-go, the way other countries did? What happens when one state’s shelter-in-place ends, while others continue? Do states still under quarantine close their borders? We are still one nation, not fifty individual countries. Right?

Award-winning photojournalist Alessio Mamo, quarantined with his partner Marta in Sicily after she tested positive for the virus, accompanies his photographs in the Guardian of their confinement with a reflection on being confined :

The doctors asked me to take a second test, but again I tested negative. Perhaps I’m immune? The days dragged on in my apartment, in black and white, like my photos. Sometimes we tried to smile, imagining that I was asymptomatic, because I was the virus. Our smiles seemed to bring good news. My mother left hospital, but I won’t be able to see her for weeks. Marta started breathing well again, and so did I. I would have liked to photograph my country in the midst of this emergency, the battles that the doctors wage on the frontline, the hospitals pushed to their limits, Italy on its knees fighting an invisible enemy. That enemy, a day in March, knocked on my door instead.

In the New York Times Magazine, deputy editor Jessica Lustig writes with devastating clarity about her family’s life in Brooklyn while her husband battled the virus, weeks before most people began taking the threat seriously:

At the door of the clinic, we stand looking out at two older women chatting outside the doorway, oblivious. Do I wave them away? Call out that they should get far away, go home, wash their hands, stay inside? Instead we just stand there, awkwardly, until they move on. Only then do we step outside to begin the long three-block walk home. I point out the early magnolia, the forsythia. T says he is cold. The untrimmed hairs on his neck, under his beard, are white. The few people walking past us on the sidewalk don’t know that we are visitors from the future. A vision, a premonition, a walking visitation. This will be them: Either T, in the mask, or — if they’re lucky — me, tending to him.

Essayist Leslie Jamison writes in the New York Review of Books about being shut away alone in her New York City apartment with her 2-year-old daughter since she became sick:

The virus. Its sinewy, intimate name. What does it feel like in my body today? Shivering under blankets. A hot itch behind the eyes. Three sweatshirts in the middle of the day. My daughter trying to pull another blanket over my body with her tiny arms. An ache in the muscles that somehow makes it hard to lie still. This loss of taste has become a kind of sensory quarantine. It’s as if the quarantine keeps inching closer and closer to my insides. First I lost the touch of other bodies; then I lost the air; now I’ve lost the taste of bananas. Nothing about any of these losses is particularly unique. I’ve made a schedule so I won’t go insane with the toddler. Five days ago, I wrote Walk/Adventure! on it, next to a cut-out illustration of a tiger—as if we’d see tigers on our walks. It was good to keep possibility alive.

At Literary Hub, novelist Heidi Pitlor writes about the elastic nature of time during her family’s quarantine in Massachusetts:

During a shutdown, the things that mark our days—commuting to work, sending our kids to school, having a drink with friends—vanish and time takes on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structure, it’s easy to feel a little untethered. A friend recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” ... Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether the virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years. We do not know when we will feel safe again. And so many of us, minus those who are gifted at compartmentalization or denial, remain largely captive to fear. We may stay this way if we do not create at least the illusion of movement in our lives, our long days spent with ourselves or partners or families.

Novelist Lauren Groff writes at the New York Review of Books about trying to escape the prison of her fears while sequestered at home in Gainesville, Florida:

Some people have imaginations sparked only by what they can see; I blame this blinkered empiricism for the parks overwhelmed with people, the bars, until a few nights ago, thickly thronged. My imagination is the opposite. I fear everything invisible to me. From the enclosure of my house, I am afraid of the suffering that isn’t present before me, the people running out of money and food or drowning in the fluid in their lungs, the deaths of health-care workers now growing ill while performing their duties. I fear the federal government, which the right wing has so—intentionally—weakened that not only is it insufficient to help its people, it is actively standing in help’s way. I fear we won’t sufficiently punish the right. I fear leaving the house and spreading the disease. I fear what this time of fear is doing to my children, their imaginations, and their souls.

At ArtForum , Berlin-based critic and writer Kristian Vistrup Madsen reflects on martinis, melancholia, and Finnish artist Jaakko Pallasvuo’s 2018 graphic novel Retreat , in which three young people exile themselves in the woods:

In melancholia, the shape of what is ending, and its temporality, is sprawling and incomprehensible. The ambivalence makes it hard to bear. The world of Retreat is rendered in lush pink and purple watercolors, which dissolve into wild and messy abstractions. In apocalypse, the divisions established in genesis bleed back out. My own Corona-retreat is similarly soft, color-field like, each day a blurred succession of quarantinis, YouTube–yoga, and televized press conferences. As restrictions mount, so does abstraction. For now, I’m still rooting for love to save the world.

At the Paris Review , Matt Levin writes about reading Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves during quarantine:

A retreat, a quarantine, a sickness—they simultaneously distort and clarify, curtail and expand. It is an ideal state in which to read literature with a reputation for difficulty and inaccessibility, those hermetic books shorn of the handholds of conventional plot or characterization or description. A novel like Virginia Woolf’s The Waves is perfect for the state of interiority induced by quarantine—a story of three men and three women, meeting after the death of a mutual friend, told entirely in the overlapping internal monologues of the six, interspersed only with sections of pure, achingly beautiful descriptions of the natural world, a day’s procession and recession of light and waves. The novel is, in my mind’s eye, a perfectly spherical object. It is translucent and shimmering and infinitely fragile, prone to shatter at the slightest disturbance. It is not a book that can be read in snatches on the subway—it demands total absorption. Though it revels in a stark emotional nakedness, the book remains aloof, remote in its own deep self-absorption.

In an essay for the Financial Times, novelist Arundhati Roy writes with anger about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anemic response to the threat, but also offers a glimmer of hope for the future:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

From Boston, Nora Caplan-Bricker writes in The Point about the strange contraction of space under quarantine, in which a friend in Beirut is as close as the one around the corner in the same city:

It’s a nice illusion—nice to feel like we’re in it together, even if my real world has shrunk to one person, my husband, who sits with his laptop in the other room. It’s nice in the same way as reading those essays that reframe social distancing as solidarity. “We must begin to see the negative space as clearly as the positive, to know what we don’t do is also brilliant and full of love,” the poet Anne Boyer wrote on March 10th, the day that Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. If you squint, you could almost make sense of this quarantine as an effort to flatten, along with the curve, the distinctions we make between our bonds with others. Right now, I care for my neighbor in the same way I demonstrate love for my mother: in all instances, I stay away. And in moments this month, I have loved strangers with an intensity that is new to me. On March 14th, the Saturday night after the end of life as we knew it, I went out with my dog and found the street silent: no lines for restaurants, no children on bicycles, no couples strolling with little cups of ice cream. It had taken the combined will of thousands of people to deliver such a sudden and complete emptiness. I felt so grateful, and so bereft.

And on his own website, musician and artist David Byrne writes about rediscovering the value of working for collective good , saying that “what is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behavior”:

In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly. Are we willing to do this? Is this moment an opportunity to see how truly interdependent we all are? To live in a world that is different and better than the one we live in now? We might be too far down the road to test every asymptomatic person, but a change in our mindsets, in how we view our neighbors, could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.

The portrait these writers paint of a world under quarantine is multifaceted. Our worlds have contracted to the confines of our homes, and yet in some ways we’re more connected than ever to one another. We feel fear and boredom, anger and gratitude, frustration and strange peace. Uncertainty drives us to find metaphors and images that will let us wrap our minds around what is happening.

Yet there’s no single “what” that is happening. Everyone is contending with the pandemic and its effects from different places and in different ways. Reading others’ experiences — even the most frightening ones — can help alleviate the loneliness and dread, a little, and remind us that what we’re going through is both unique and shared by all.

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12 Ideas for Writing Through the Pandemic With The New York Times

A dozen writing projects — including journals, poems, comics and more — for students to try at home.

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

By Natalie Proulx

The coronavirus has transformed life as we know it. Schools are closed, we’re confined to our homes and the future feels very uncertain. Why write at a time like this?

For one, we are living through history. Future historians may look back on the journals, essays and art that ordinary people are creating now to tell the story of life during the coronavirus.

But writing can also be deeply therapeutic. It can be a way to express our fears, hopes and joys. It can help us make sense of the world and our place in it.

Plus, even though school buildings are shuttered, that doesn’t mean learning has stopped. Writing can help us reflect on what’s happening in our lives and form new ideas.

We want to help inspire your writing about the coronavirus while you learn from home. Below, we offer 12 projects for students, all based on pieces from The New York Times, including personal narrative essays, editorials, comic strips and podcasts. Each project features a Times text and prompts to inspire your writing, as well as related resources from The Learning Network to help you develop your craft. Some also offer opportunities to get your work published in The Times, on The Learning Network or elsewhere.

We know this list isn’t nearly complete. If you have ideas for other pandemic-related writing projects, please suggest them in the comments.

In the meantime, happy writing!

Journaling is well-known as a therapeutic practice , a tool for helping you organize your thoughts and vent your emotions, especially in anxiety-ridden times. But keeping a diary has an added benefit during a pandemic: It may help educate future generations.

In “ The Quarantine Diaries ,” Amelia Nierenberg spoke to Ady, an 8-year-old in the Bay Area who is keeping a diary. Ms. Nierenberg writes:

As the coronavirus continues to spread and confine people largely to their homes, many are filling pages with their experiences of living through a pandemic. Their diaries are told in words and pictures: pantry inventories, window views, questions about the future, concerns about the present. Taken together, the pages tell the story of an anxious, claustrophobic world on pause. “You can say anything you want, no matter what, and nobody can judge you,” Ady said in a phone interview earlier this month, speaking about her diary. “No one says, ‘scaredy-cat.’” When future historians look to write the story of life during coronavirus, these first-person accounts may prove useful. “Diaries and correspondences are a gold standard,” said Jane Kamensky, a professor of American History at Harvard University and the faculty director of the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute. “They’re among the best evidence we have of people’s inner worlds.”

You can keep your own journal, recording your thoughts, questions, concerns and experiences of living through the coronavirus pandemic.

Not sure what to write about? Read the rest of Ms. Nierenberg’s article to find out what others around the world are recording. If you need more inspiration, here are a few writing prompts to get you started:

How has the virus disrupted your daily life? What are you missing? School, sports, competitions, extracurricular activities, social plans, vacations or anything else?

What effect has this crisis had on your own mental and emotional health?

What changes, big or small, are you noticing in the world around you?

For more ideas, see our writing prompts . We post a new one every school day, many of them now related to life during the coronavirus.

You can write in your journal every day or as often as you like. And if writing isn’t working for you right now, try a visual, audio or video diary instead.

2. Personal Narrative

As you write in your journal, you’ll probably find that your life during the pandemic is full of stories, whether serious or funny, angry or sad. If you’re so inspired, try writing about one of your experiences in a personal narrative essay.

Here’s how Mary Laura Philpott begins her essay, “ This Togetherness Is Temporary, ” about being quarantined with her teenage children:

Get this: A couple of months ago, I quit my job in order to be home more. Go ahead and laugh at the timing. I know. At the time, it was hitting me that my daughter starts high school in the fall, and my son will be a senior. Increasingly they were spending their time away from me at school, with friends, and in the many time-intensive activities that make up teenage lives. I could feel the clock ticking, and I wanted to spend the minutes I could — the minutes they were willing to give me, anyway — with them, instead of sitting in front of a computer at night and on weekends in order to juggle a job as a bookseller, a part-time gig as a television host, and a book deadline. I wanted more of them while they were still living in my house. Now here we are, all together, every day. You’re supposed to be careful what you wish for, but come on. None of us saw this coming.

Personal narratives are short, powerful stories about meaningful life experiences, big or small. Read the rest of Ms. Philpott’s essay to see how she balances telling the story of a specific moment in time and reflecting on what it all means in the larger context of her life.

To help you identify the moments that have been particularly meaningful, difficult, comical or strange during this pandemic, try responding to one of our writing prompts related to the coronavirus:

Holidays and Birthdays Are Moments to Come Together. How Are You Adapting During the Pandemic?

Has Your School Switched to Remote Learning? How Is It Going So Far?

Is the Coronavirus Pandemic Bringing Your Extended Family Closer Together?

How Is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting Your Life?

Another option? Use any of the images in our Picture Prompt series to inspire you to write about a memory from your life.

Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 1: Teach Narrative Writing With The New York Times

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

People have long turned to creative expression in times of crisis. During the coronavirus pandemic, artists are continuing to illustrate , play music , dance , perform — and write poetry .

That’s what Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, an emergency room doctor in Boston, did after a long shift treating coronavirus patients. Called “ The Apocalypse ,” her poem begins like this:

This is the apocalypse A daffodil has poked its head up from the dirt and opened sunny arms to bluer skies yet I am filled with dark and anxious dread as theaters close as travel ends and grocery stores display their empty rows where toilet paper liquid bleach and bags of flour stood in upright ranks.

Read the rest of Dr. Mitchell’s poem and note the lines, images and metaphors that speak to you. Then, tap into your creative side by writing a poem inspired by your own experience of the pandemic.

Need inspiration? Try writing a poem in response to one of our Picture Prompts . Or, you can create a found poem using an article from The Times’s coronavirus outbreak coverage . If you have access to the print paper, try making a blackout poem instead.

Related Resources: 24 Ways to Teach and Learn About Poetry With The New York Times Reader Idea | How the Found Poem Can Inspire Teachers and Students Alike

4. Letter to the Editor

Have you been keeping up with the news about the coronavirus? What is your reaction to it?

Make your voice heard by writing a letter to the editor about a recent Times article, editorial, column or Opinion essay related to the pandemic. You can find articles in The Times’s free coronavirus coverage or The Learning Network’s coronavirus resources for students . And, if you’re a high school student, your school can get you free digital access to The New York Times from now until July 6.

To see examples, read the letters written by young people in response to recent headlines in “ How the Young Deal With the Coronavirus .” Here’s what Addie Muller from San Jose, Calif., had to say about the Opinion essay “ I’m 26. Coronavirus Sent Me to the Hospital ”:

As a high school student and a part of Generation Z, I’ve been less concerned about getting Covid-19 and more concerned about spreading it to more vulnerable populations. While I’ve been staying at home and sheltering in place (as was ordered for the state of California), many of my friends haven’t been doing the same. I know people who continue going to restaurants and have been treating the change in education as an extended spring break and excuse to spend more time with friends. I fear for my grandparents and parents, but this article showed me that we should also fear for ourselves. I appreciated seeing this article because many younger people seem to feel invincible. The fact that a healthy 26-year-old can be hospitalized means that we are all capable of getting the virus ourselves and spreading it to others. I hope that Ms. Lowenstein continues spreading her story and that she makes a full recovery soon.

As you read, note some of the defining features of a letter to the editor and what made these good enough to publish. For more advice, see these tips from Thomas Feyer, the letters editor at The Times, about how to write a compelling letter. They include:

Write briefly and to the point.

Be prepared to back up your facts with evidence.

Write about something off the beaten path.

Publishing Opportunity: When you’re ready, submit your letter to The New York Times.

5. Editorial

Maybe you have more to say than you can fit in a 150-word letter to the editor. If that’s the case, try writing an editorial about something you have a strong opinion about related to the coronavirus. What have you seen that has made you upset? Proud? Appreciative? Scared?

In “ Surviving Coronavirus as a Broke College Student ,” Sydney Goins, a senior English major at the University of Georgia, writes about the limited options for students whose colleges are now closed. Her essay begins:

College was supposed to be my ticket to financial security. My parents were the first ones to go to college in their family. My grandpa said to my mom, “You need to go to college, so you don’t have to depend on a man for money.” This same mentality was passed on to me as well. I had enough money to last until May— $1,625 to be exact — until the coronavirus ruined my finances. My mom works in human resources. My dad is a project manager for a mattress company. I worked part time at the university’s most popular dining hall and lived in a cramped house with three other students. I don’t have a car. I either walked or biked a mile to attend class. I have student debt and started paying the accrued interest last month. I was making it work until the coronavirus shut down my college town. At first, spring break was extended by two weeks with the assumption that campus would open again in late March, but a few hours after that email, all 26 colleges in the University System of Georgia canceled in-person classes and closed integral parts of campus.

Read the rest of Ms. Goins’s essay. What is her argument? How does she support it? How is it relevant to her life and the world?

Then, choose a topic related to the pandemic that you care about and write an editorial that asserts an opinion and backs it up with solid reasoning and evidence.

Not sure where to start? Try responding to some of our recent argumentative writing prompts and see what comes up for you. Here are a few we’ve asked students so far:

Should Schools Change How They Grade Students During the Pandemic?

What Role Should Celebrities Have During the Coronavirus Crisis?

Is It Immoral to Increase the Price of Goods During a Crisis?

Or, consider essential questions about the pandemic and what they tell us about our world today: What weaknesses is the coronavirus exposing in our society? How can we best help our communities right now? What lessons can we learn from this crisis? See more here.

As an alternative to a written essay, you might try creating a video Op-Ed instead, like Katherine Oung’s “ Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School. ”

Publishing Opportunity: Submit your final essay to our Student Editorial Contest , open to middle school and high school students ages 10-19, until April 21. Please be sure to read all the rules and guidelines before submitting.

Related Resource: An Argumentative-Writing Unit for Students Doing Remote Learning

Are games, television, music, books, art or movies providing you with a much-needed distraction during the pandemic? What has been working for you that you would recommend to others? Or, what would you caution others to stay away from right now?

Share your opinions by writing a review of a piece of art or culture for other teenagers who are stuck at home. You might suggest TV shows, novels, podcasts, video games, recipes or anything else. Or, try something made especially for the coronavirus era, like a virtual architecture tour , concert or safari .

As a mentor text, read Laura Cappelle’s review of French theater companies that have rushed to put content online during the coronavirus outbreak, noting how she tailors her commentary to our current reality:

The 17th-century philosopher Blaise Pascal once wrote: “The sole cause of people’s unhappiness is that they do not know how to stay quietly in their rooms.” Yet at a time when much of the world has been forced to hunker down, French theater-makers are fighting to fill the void by making noise online.

She continues:

Under the circumstances, it would be churlish to complain about artists’ desire to connect with audiences in some fashion. Theater, which depends on crowds gathering to watch performers at close quarters, is experiencing significant loss and upheaval, with many stagings either delayed indefinitely or canceled outright. But a sampling of stopgap offerings often left me underwhelmed.

To get inspired you might start by responding to our related Student Opinion prompt with your recommendations. Then turn one of them into a formal review.

Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 2: Analyzing Arts, Criticizing Culture: Writing Reviews With The New York Times

7. How-to Guide

Being stuck at home with nowhere to go is the perfect time to learn a new skill. What are you an expert at that you can you teach someone?

The Times has created several guides that walk readers through how to do something step-by-step, for example, this eight-step tutorial on how to make a face mask . Read through the guide, noting how the author breaks down each step into an easily digestible action, as well as how the illustrations support comprehension.

Then, create your own how-to guide for something you could teach someone to do during the pandemic. Maybe it’s a recipe you’ve perfected, a solo sport you’ve been practicing, or a FaceTime tutorial for someone who’s never video chatted before.

Whatever you choose, make sure to write clearly so anyone anywhere could try out this new skill. As an added challenge, include an illustration, photo, or audio or video clip with each step to support the reader’s understanding.

Related Resource: Writing Curriculum | Unit 4: Informational Writing

8. 36 Hours Column

For nearly two decades, The Times has published a weekly 36 Hours column , giving readers suggestions for how to spend a weekend in cities all over the globe.

While traveling for fun is not an option now, the Travel section decided to create a special reader-generated column of how to spend a weekend in the midst of a global pandemic. The result? “ 36 Hours in … Wherever You Are .” Here’s how readers suggest spending a Sunday morning:

8 a.m. Changing routines Make small discoveries. To stretch my legs during the lockdown, I’ve been walking around the block every day, and I’ve started to notice details that I’d never seen before. Like the fake, painted window on the building across the road, or the old candle holders that were once used as part of the street lighting. When the quarantine ends, I hope we don’t forget to appreciate what’s been on a doorstep all along. — Camilla Capasso, Modena, Italy 10:30 a.m. Use your hands Undertake the easiest and most fulfilling origami project of your life by folding 12 pieces of paper and building this lovely star . Modular origami has been my absolute favorite occupational therapy since I was a restless child: the process is enthralling and soothing. — Laila Dib, Berlin, Germany 12 p.m. Be isolated, together Check on neighbors on your block or floor with an email, text or phone call, or leave a card with your name and contact information. Are they OK? Do they need something from the store? Help with an errand? Food? Can you bring them a hot dish or home-baked bread? This simple act — done carefully and from a safe distance — palpably reduces our sense of fear and isolation. I’ve seen the faces of some neighbors for the first time. Now they wave. — Jim Carrier, Burlington, Vt.

Read the entire article. As you read, consider: How would this be different if it were written by teenagers for teenagers?

Then, create your own 36 Hours itinerary for teenagers stuck at home during the pandemic with ideas for how to spend the weekend wherever they are.

The 36 Hours editors suggest thinking “within the spirit of travel, even if many of us are housebound.” For example: an album or a song playlist; a book or movie that transports you; a particular recipe you love; or a clever way to virtually connect with family and friends. See more suggestions here .

Related Resources: Reader Idea | 36 Hours in Your Hometown 36 Hours in Learning: Creating Travel Itineraries Across the Curriculum

9. Photo Essay

places i would like to visit after the pandemic essay

Daily life looks very different now. Unusual scenes are playing out in homes, parks, grocery stores and streets across the country.

In “ New York Was Not Designed for Emptiness ,” New York Times photographers document what life in New York City looks like amid the pandemic. It begins:

The lights are still on in Times Square. Billboards blink and storefronts shine in neon. If only there were an audience for this spectacle. But the thoroughfares have been abandoned. The energy that once crackled along the concrete has eased. The throngs of tourists, the briskly striding commuters, the honking drivers have mostly skittered away. In their place is a wistful awareness that plays across all five boroughs: Look how eerie our brilliant landscape has become. Look how it no longer bustles. This is not the New York City anyone signed up for.

Read the rest of the essay and view the photos. As you read, note the photos or lines in the text that grab your attention most. Why do they stand out to you?

What does the pandemic look like where you live? Create your own photo essay, accompanied by a written piece, that illustrates your life now. In your essay, consider how you can communicate a particular theme or message about life during the pandemic through both your photos and words, like in the article you read.

Publishing Opportunity: The International Center of Photography is collecting a virtual archive of images related to the coronavirus pandemic. Learn how to submit yours here.

10. Comic Strip

Sometimes, words alone just won’t do. Visual mediums, like comics, have the advantage of being able to express emotion, reveal inner monologues, and explain complex subjects in ways that words on their own seldom can.

If anything proves this point, it is the Opinion section’s ongoing visual diary, “ Art in Isolation .” Scroll through this collection to see clever and poignant illustrations about life in these uncertain times. Read the comic “ Finding Connection When Home Alone ” by Gracey Zhang from this collection. As you read, note what stands out to you about the writing and illustrations. What lessons could they have for your own piece?

Then, create your own comic strip, modeled after the one you read, that explores some aspect of life during the pandemic. You can sketch and color your comic with paper and pen, or use an online tool like .

Need inspiration? If you’re keeping a quarantine journal, as we suggested above, you might create a graphic story based on a week of your life, or just a small part of it — like the meals you ate, the video games you played, or the conversations you had with friends over text. For more ideas, check out our writing prompts related to the coronavirus.

Related Resource: From Superheroes to Syrian Refugees: Teaching Comics and Graphic Novels With Resources From The New York Times

11. Podcast

Modern Love Poster

Modern Love Podcast: In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, People Share Their Love Stories

Are you listening to any podcasts to help you get through the pandemic? Are they keeping you up-to-date on the news? Offering advice? Or just helping you escape from it all?

Create your own five-minute podcast segment that responds to the coronavirus in some way.

To get an idea of the different genres and formats your podcast could take, listen to one or more of these five-minute clips from three New York Times podcast episodes related to the coronavirus:

“ The Daily | Voices of the Pandemic ” (1:15-6:50)

“ Still Processing | A Pod From Both Our Houses ” (0:00-4:50)

“ Modern Love | In the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic, People Share Their Love Stories ” (1:30-6:30)

Use these as models for your own podcast. Consider the different narrative techniques they use to relate an experience of the pandemic — interviews, nonfiction storytelling and conversation — as well as how they create an engaging listening experience.

Need ideas for what to talk about? You might try translating any of the writing projects above into podcast form. Or turn to our coronavirus-related writing prompts for inspiration.

Publishing Opportunity: Submit your finished five-minute podcast to our Student Podcast Contest , which is open through May 19. Please read all the rules and guidelines before submitting.

Related Resource: Project Audio: Teaching Students How to Produce Their Own Podcasts

12. Revise and Edit

“It doesn’t matter how good you think you are as a writer — the first words you put on the page are a first draft,” Harry Guinness writes in “ How to Edit Your Own Writing .”

Editing your work may seem like something you do quickly — checking for spelling mistakes just before you turn in your essay — but Mr. Guinness argues it’s a project in its own right:

The time you put into editing, reworking and refining turns your first draft into a second — and then into a third and, if you keep at it, eventually something great. The biggest mistake you can make as a writer is to assume that what you wrote the first time through was good enough.

Read the rest of the article for a step-by-step guide to editing your own work. Then, revise one of the pieces you have written, following Mr. Guinness’s advice.

Publishing Opportunity: When you feel like your piece is “something great,” consider submitting it to one of the publishing opportunities we’ve suggested above. Or, see our list of 70-plus places that publish teenage writing and art to find more.

Natalie Proulx joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2017 after working as an English language arts teacher and curriculum writer. More about Natalie Proulx

COVID-19: Where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going

One of the hardest things to deal with in this type of crisis is being able to go the distance. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel

Where we're going

Living with covid-19, people & organizations, sustainable, inclusive growth, related collection.

Emerging stronger from the coronavirus pandemic

The Next Normal: Emerging stronger from the coronavirus pandemic


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