MUSCAT: The cruise industry will be different, more conscious and responsible towards destinations than before the Corona pandemic, not only towards the health of the passengers but more towards the local people and the destinations, says a German tourism researcher based in Muscat.
“The crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic could be the right time to rethink our consumption patterns overall and our behaviour needs to be conscious about the health impact on environment and communities while starting new ways and less exploitative tourism, with respect to our mobilities and CO2 emissions such as slower forms of travel,” says Dr Manuela Gutberlet, Research Associate, University of Johannesburg, School of Tourism and Hospitality, College of Business and Economics.
As a consequence of this pandemic, some destinations have protested to receive cruise tourists, a kind of ‘tourism phobia’ against mass-tourists noticed in European destinations like Venice or Barcelona.
Tourism and especially cruise tourism has been highly impacted since the pandemic outbreak occurred on the first cruise liner in Japan, the British-registered Diamond Princess.
Dr Gutberlet who has been studying the impact of mass cruise tourism in Oman says the number of cruise tourists has stopped around the globe due to travel restrictions.
Dr Gutberlet highlighting the importance of sustainability in tourism, told Observer: “It fits our modern live-styles with instant-gratifications and convenience while being part of a ‘society of consumers’ on board. I think as long as it is ‘in’ and enhances the self-esteem and the inner desire as a motivating force for the consumption, people will continue to travel with a cruise liner when the pandemic is over”.
According to her research, very little money is spent in each destination due to lack of time.
The value of cruise tourism can be compared to other leisure activities including shopping.
Dr Gutberlet, also an independent tourism researcher at GuTech, mentions that shopping will continue but most probably with a different consciousness and awareness.
“Travel is more likely to return first in close proximity to our homes. This could be more regional or domestic travel within Oman and the region along with outdoor activities, namely camping where it is easier to practise social distancing as well as outdoor sports activities that are less harmful for the natural and physical environment and the communities as well as for tourists themselves”.
Dr Gutberlet is currently working on a book on ‘Mega-Cruise Tourism and Overtourism on the Arabian Peninsula’ to be published by Routledge, UK later this year.