Tourism, as the practice of people travelling to other places to encounter other people, is made precarious by the spread of infectious disease and attenuates this spread. This knowledge is not new and the relationship between tourism and the spread of infection has never disappeared. Tourism remains a significant influencer of ‘global microbial traffic’ (Morse, 1992) but this has largely remained manageable, at acceptable levels of risk, and with the worst-case scenarios remaining mostly dormant. Notable, and fairly recent, exceptions include SARS (2003), Swine flu (2009) and MERS (2012) among the respiratory infections that have influenced tourism in regional concentrations. Not only are such outbreaks appearing to occur with greater frequency, but the greater volume of tourist arrivals increases their potential to do harm. In 2003, against the forecast for volumes of international tourism, Linda Richter envisaged that 2020 would deliver ‘an unprecedented risk of infectious disease and other health-related crises’ (p. 340). The accuracy of her prediction is now well appreciated.
Some of the infrastructure being drawn upon to manage COVID-19 has been in place, if less obviously, for most of the duration of modern tourism, like mandatory vaccination schedules; other infrastructure, like dedicated quarantine facilities, have since been made redundant while newer technologies like surveillance networks have become key tools in managing the mobility of infectious disease through tourism. With public health calls for strategic as well immediate responses, how can the tourism industry begin to deal with the changed landscape through which it will undoubtably need to operate.
We’ll be joined by academic and industry experts:
Tony Martin, CEO of the Qantas Founders Museum
Kelly Hendry, Destination Management at Parkes Shire Council, NSW
Annie Clarke, Professor of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Sydney
Michael Hall, Professor in the Geographies of Tourism, University of Canterbury (NZ)
Giovanna Lever, Founder and CEO of Sparrowly Group
Trevor Sofield, Professor in the Economics of Tourism, University of Tasmania
Felicity Picken (Chair), Lecturer in Tourism and Heritage, Western Sydney University