The 21st century will be remembered as the century of the Covid-19 pandemic, a catastrophic event that has produced a devastating impact on the lives of all humanity. An unprecedented health emergency that hit hard all sectors of the global economy, having caused an exceptional shock on supply and demand, but also a profound situation of uncertainty that led to a reduction in consumption of goods and services (Gokhan et al., 2021; Boone et al., 2020; Gössling et al., 2020). The United Nations World Tourism Organization (2020) argues that “tourism is one of the most affected sectors”, being highly vulnerable to disturbances caused by natural events in terms of localized phenomena such as earthquakes, fires, volcanic explosions, tsunamis or floods, as well as global events such as disease pandemics (Ma et al., 2020; Butler, 2017; Laws, Prideaux & Chon, 2007; Ritchie, 2004, 2009). According to Rogerson and Baum (2020) the COVID-19 epidemic has generated profound changes in both the demand and supply of tourism sector. On the one hand, concerns about personal health and safety became accelerating factors in the tourists’ decision-making process . On the other hand, the blockage of flows, the closure of borders, travel and mobility restrictions, isolation of communities, and social distancing, has put the tourism industry in front of an unprecedented challenge in a very short time, requiring new business models (Fotiadis et al., 2021; Park et al., 2021; Bartik et al., 2020; Chia-Lin Chang et al. 2020; Cooper & Alderman, 2020; Hall et al., 2020; Jamal & Budke, 2020; Seraphin, 2020). At the same time, if the tourism crisis is a result of the pandemic, it is also true that the uncontrolled development of tourism is one of the cause of the Covid-19 disease (e.g., Sigala, 2020): it has contributed to increasing the level of global interconnections; it has generated pollution, and waste, acting negatively on climate change; it has contributed to sustain the values of capitalism in the decision-making process of people and companies, as well as in political formulations. In this context, the Mediterranean region is among the most affected by the crisis, especially the countries located on both sides, which represent almost 1/3 of the overall income of international tourism (UNWTO, 2021). In these areas, rethinking tourism represents a necessity for a sector of vital importance for local communities and small businesses. It is, therefore, essential to start a process of redefinition and planning of the future of tourism for the countries of the Mediterranean region, so as to secure and sustain their competitiveness in a global and uncertain scenario (Ateljevic, 2020; Baum & Hai, 2020; Bianchi, 2020; Everingham & Chassagne, 2020; Huijbens, 2020; Ioannides & Gyamóthi, 2020; Tremblay-Huet, 2020; Romagosa 2020; Tomassini & Carvagnaro 2020; Carr, 2020; Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020). However, in order to seize concretely the opportunities of this historical moment, it is mandatory to redesign the model of tourism development and prepare tourism recovery plans putting on the foreground the the transition towards more sustainable and resilient economies. Coherently to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to the World Commission on Environment and Development, being sustainable focuses on “the ability to satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs” ((1987, p.43). According to this approach, tourism should be critically reconsidered, re-focusing on the needs of all stakeholders. It should restart in compliance with the triple bottom line aimed at promoting a structural transformation of the sector and a more solid and sustainable development, reinvigorating trust, restoring the environment, and promoting institutional innovation (Brouder et al., 2020). On this point, two opposite approaches have been proposed in the scientific literature. Some authors (Gössling et al., 2020; Rogerson & Baum 2020) underline the expectations of companies to return "as normal" and to compensate for turnover losses through financial measures offered by various governments. Hall et al. (2020), for example, highlight the importance of the resilience of the tourism business and the political intervention that can support the recovery, without any commitment from stakeholders to sustainable climate change mitigation requirements. The resilience of tourism will depend on the level of consumer confidence, the government's economic interventions and restrictions on mobility, social distance and isolation requirements. On the contrary, some scholars explain how the pandemic has contributed to the growth of a “global consciousness” that is more in harmony with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Galvani et al., 2020). To them, the crisis offers a “moment of transformation” and an opportunity to better address the objectives of inclusion, sustainability and responsibility. In this perspective, Ioannides & Gyamóthi (2020) see the crisis as a chance to escape the unsustainable trajectory of pre-COVID global tourism and offers the prospect of a community-centered framework as a potential mechanism for tourism growth (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020). Embracing this perspective, major players in the hospitality sector have underlined their commitment to a global transition towards a more sustainable and resilient future (Sharma aet al., 2021; Ioannides & Gyimóthy, 2020). The future development of tourism should consider various environmental aspects such as pollution, the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of natural resources, recreational activities and waste management; at the same time, it should aim at pursuing a social impact, i.e. maximizing the welfare and quality of life of citizens. Rogerson & Baum (2020) point out that a transformation of tourism in this direction implies a commitment of all actors to equity (Benjamin et al., 2020), a path towards transformative e-tourism (Gretzel et al., 2020), and the absorption of different cultural values able to guarantee development at community level (Carr, 2020). The pandemic and the need to redesign tourism have imposed a reset on the agendas of researchers and academics, so that they can generate new valuable knowledge for the tourism sector informing it about how to transform its activities and make appropriate use of available resources (Villac´e-Molinero et al., 2021). A portfolio of existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks can be a valuable resource to stimulate research and carry out new studies promoting new ideas, models, approaches and paradigms. In this respect, scholars and researchers have a great responsibility: to contribute to re-orienting tourism - both from the supply and demand perspectives - towards a truly sustainable and resilient profile, suitable for a turbulent, dynamic and challenging future (Gursoy & Chi 2020; Ramagosa 2020; Sigala, 2020). Starting from these assumptions, the aim of the first volume of the book series “Tourism Studies in the Mediterranean Region” is to offer new and critical perspectives on sustainable development in the Mediterranean countries and islands and provide ground evidence about how sustainable development research and practice can support the “new normal” of tourism and the structural transformation of the sector that is needed in light of the pandemic disease. The focus will be on the future shape of tourism after the COVID-19 and the evolutionary trajectories of this sector both at the level of business and at the level of destinations in its transition towards more resilient and sustainable tourism economies.

Post Covid-19: a pathway towards sustainable development in the Mediterranean region

R. Micera
2021

Abstract

The 21st century will be remembered as the century of the Covid-19 pandemic, a catastrophic event that has produced a devastating impact on the lives of all humanity. An unprecedented health emergency that hit hard all sectors of the global economy, having caused an exceptional shock on supply and demand, but also a profound situation of uncertainty that led to a reduction in consumption of goods and services (Gokhan et al., 2021; Boone et al., 2020; Gössling et al., 2020). The United Nations World Tourism Organization (2020) argues that “tourism is one of the most affected sectors”, being highly vulnerable to disturbances caused by natural events in terms of localized phenomena such as earthquakes, fires, volcanic explosions, tsunamis or floods, as well as global events such as disease pandemics (Ma et al., 2020; Butler, 2017; Laws, Prideaux & Chon, 2007; Ritchie, 2004, 2009). According to Rogerson and Baum (2020) the COVID-19 epidemic has generated profound changes in both the demand and supply of tourism sector. On the one hand, concerns about personal health and safety became accelerating factors in the tourists’ decision-making process . On the other hand, the blockage of flows, the closure of borders, travel and mobility restrictions, isolation of communities, and social distancing, has put the tourism industry in front of an unprecedented challenge in a very short time, requiring new business models (Fotiadis et al., 2021; Park et al., 2021; Bartik et al., 2020; Chia-Lin Chang et al. 2020; Cooper & Alderman, 2020; Hall et al., 2020; Jamal & Budke, 2020; Seraphin, 2020). At the same time, if the tourism crisis is a result of the pandemic, it is also true that the uncontrolled development of tourism is one of the cause of the Covid-19 disease (e.g., Sigala, 2020): it has contributed to increasing the level of global interconnections; it has generated pollution, and waste, acting negatively on climate change; it has contributed to sustain the values of capitalism in the decision-making process of people and companies, as well as in political formulations. In this context, the Mediterranean region is among the most affected by the crisis, especially the countries located on both sides, which represent almost 1/3 of the overall income of international tourism (UNWTO, 2021). In these areas, rethinking tourism represents a necessity for a sector of vital importance for local communities and small businesses. It is, therefore, essential to start a process of redefinition and planning of the future of tourism for the countries of the Mediterranean region, so as to secure and sustain their competitiveness in a global and uncertain scenario (Ateljevic, 2020; Baum & Hai, 2020; Bianchi, 2020; Everingham & Chassagne, 2020; Huijbens, 2020; Ioannides & Gyamóthi, 2020; Tremblay-Huet, 2020; Romagosa 2020; Tomassini & Carvagnaro 2020; Carr, 2020; Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020). However, in order to seize concretely the opportunities of this historical moment, it is mandatory to redesign the model of tourism development and prepare tourism recovery plans putting on the foreground the the transition towards more sustainable and resilient economies. Coherently to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to the World Commission on Environment and Development, being sustainable focuses on “the ability to satisfy the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs” ((1987, p.43). According to this approach, tourism should be critically reconsidered, re-focusing on the needs of all stakeholders. It should restart in compliance with the triple bottom line aimed at promoting a structural transformation of the sector and a more solid and sustainable development, reinvigorating trust, restoring the environment, and promoting institutional innovation (Brouder et al., 2020). On this point, two opposite approaches have been proposed in the scientific literature. Some authors (Gössling et al., 2020; Rogerson & Baum 2020) underline the expectations of companies to return "as normal" and to compensate for turnover losses through financial measures offered by various governments. Hall et al. (2020), for example, highlight the importance of the resilience of the tourism business and the political intervention that can support the recovery, without any commitment from stakeholders to sustainable climate change mitigation requirements. The resilience of tourism will depend on the level of consumer confidence, the government's economic interventions and restrictions on mobility, social distance and isolation requirements. On the contrary, some scholars explain how the pandemic has contributed to the growth of a “global consciousness” that is more in harmony with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Galvani et al., 2020). To them, the crisis offers a “moment of transformation” and an opportunity to better address the objectives of inclusion, sustainability and responsibility. In this perspective, Ioannides & Gyamóthi (2020) see the crisis as a chance to escape the unsustainable trajectory of pre-COVID global tourism and offers the prospect of a community-centered framework as a potential mechanism for tourism growth (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020). Embracing this perspective, major players in the hospitality sector have underlined their commitment to a global transition towards a more sustainable and resilient future (Sharma aet al., 2021; Ioannides & Gyimóthy, 2020). The future development of tourism should consider various environmental aspects such as pollution, the ecosystem and biodiversity, the use of natural resources, recreational activities and waste management; at the same time, it should aim at pursuing a social impact, i.e. maximizing the welfare and quality of life of citizens. Rogerson & Baum (2020) point out that a transformation of tourism in this direction implies a commitment of all actors to equity (Benjamin et al., 2020), a path towards transformative e-tourism (Gretzel et al., 2020), and the absorption of different cultural values able to guarantee development at community level (Carr, 2020). The pandemic and the need to redesign tourism have imposed a reset on the agendas of researchers and academics, so that they can generate new valuable knowledge for the tourism sector informing it about how to transform its activities and make appropriate use of available resources (Villac´e-Molinero et al., 2021). A portfolio of existing conceptual and theoretical frameworks can be a valuable resource to stimulate research and carry out new studies promoting new ideas, models, approaches and paradigms. In this respect, scholars and researchers have a great responsibility: to contribute to re-orienting tourism - both from the supply and demand perspectives - towards a truly sustainable and resilient profile, suitable for a turbulent, dynamic and challenging future (Gursoy & Chi 2020; Ramagosa 2020; Sigala, 2020). Starting from these assumptions, the aim of the first volume of the book series “Tourism Studies in the Mediterranean Region” is to offer new and critical perspectives on sustainable development in the Mediterranean countries and islands and provide ground evidence about how sustainable development research and practice can support the “new normal” of tourism and the structural transformation of the sector that is needed in light of the pandemic disease. The focus will be on the future shape of tourism after the COVID-19 and the evolutionary trajectories of this sector both at the level of business and at the level of destinations in its transition towards more resilient and sustainable tourism economies.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11563/155165
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