Pandemics, transformations and tourism: be careful what you wish for

C. Michael Hall, Daniel Scott, Stefan Gössling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disease outbreaks and pandemics have long played a role in societal and economic change. However, the nature of such change is selective, meaning that it is sometimes minimal and, at other times, and change or transformation may be unexpected, potentially even reinforcing contemporary paradigms. A comprehensive overview of pandemics and their effects is provided. This is used to help contextualise the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on tourism and government, industry and consumer response. Drawing on the available literature, factors that will affect tourism and destination recovery are then identified. Some measures will continue or even expand present growth orientations in tourism while others may contribute to sustainability. It is concluded that that the selective nature of the effects of COVID-19 and the measures to contain it may lead to reorientation of tourism in some cases, but in others will contribute to policies reflecting the selfish nationalism of some countries. However, the response to planetary limits and sustainable tourism requires a global approach. Despite clear evidence of this necessity, the possibility for a comprehensive transformation of the tourism system remains extremely limited without a fundamental transformation of the entire planet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-598
Number of pages22
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Free keywords

  • COVID-19
  • crisis management
  • disaster management
  • disaster recovery
  • pandemic impact
  • pandemic response
  • resilience
  • sustainable tourism
  • third-order change
  • tourism policy


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