Key West, a seaside resort in Florida, the southern tip of the United States, has nothing, a priori, against tourism. In 2019, 1.2 million cruise passengers landed in this city of 25,000 inhabitants. It is for them that it limits the place of cars in the city center, ripolines its Caribbean houses, maintains the former home of Ernest Hemingway, tolerates street artists on the docks at sunset. It is thanks to them that it has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the United States.
But when tourists stopped coming in the spring of 2020, residents of Key West reacted counterintuitively: they called for a referendum on the future of cruising. In November 2020, more than 60% of voters answered “yes” to limiting the number of daily cruise passengers, banning the giants of the seas – more than 1,300 people on board – and prioritizing the least polluting ships. .
The motivations were above all environmental: the arrival of large cruise ships damaged the coral reef, one of the main attractions of the Keys archipelago. But the economy was at the heart of the campaign: after a year without cruises, banned in the United States due to the Covid-19 epidemic, the results of the main tourism players remained very satisfactory. The apocalypse promised by the cruise industry at the slightest attempt to brake had not taken place.
This is one of the consequences of tourism put on hold: from the small resort in the Alps to one of the most visited countries in the world, Thailand, several territories have taken the opportunity to review their tourism development policy. As if the Covid-19 had served as an electric shock and an encouragement to act on a phenomenon widely thought to be uncontrollable; when it was thought of.
Surtourism and climate impact
Everywhere, the short-term concern remains of course to bring back tourists to revive a part of the economy that is a source of jobs. But in places, this does not prevent concern for the medium and long term. As if tourism, until now a source of magic money, had suddenly manifested itself in the eyes of public authorities in all its dimensions.
“Tourism seemed obvious everywhere, notes Stéphane Durand, from the specialist firm Voltere by Egis. The pandemic has highlighted its absolutely enormous impact on the Ile-de-France economy but also on the very atmosphere of Paris; at the same time, communities became aware that they were suffering from the impacts of tourism that had to be tackled. “
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