Two years of COVID-19 and tourism: what we learned, and what we should have learned

Stefan Gössling, Nadja Schweiggart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In January 2020, infections with a novel coronavirus were confirmed in China. Two years into the pandemic, countries continue to struggle with fifth and sixth waves, new virus variants, and varying degrees of success in vaccinating national populations. Travel restrictions continue to persist, and the global tourism industry looks into a third year of uncertainty. There is a consensus that the COVID crisis should be a turning point, to “build back better”, and that a return to pre-pandemic overtourism phenomena is undesirable. Yet, there is very limited evidence that the crisis has changed or will change tourism beyond the micro-scale. In regard to many issues, such as new debt, global tourism has become more vulnerable. Against the background of the climate crisis, the purpose of this paper is to take stock: Which lessons can be learned from the pandemic for global warming? To achieve this, relevant papers are discussed, along with a dissection of the development of the crisis in Germany, as an example of ad hoc crisis management. Findings are interpreted as an analogue to climate change, suggesting that our common interest should be to put every possible effort into mitigation and the avoidance of a > 1.5 °C future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-931
JournalJournal of Sustainable Tourism
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Social and Economic Geography

Free keywords

  • climate change
  • COVID-19
  • crisis management
  • governance
  • policy
  • sustainable tourism


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