A French Nobel awardee wrote something about discovering new oceans. This was half a century back. He said that to discover new oceans you must first be ready to lose sight of the shore.
The statement has an endearing admonishing tone to it that wise adventurers quite relish. It spurs them on. Yet when challenges arrive they do throw the best-prepared off balance. That’s what Covid19 has done to us all. Right and proper.
The doomsayers pass those told-you-so looks, the moaners wail the loudest, profiteers rub their hands in glee and stranded tourists wring hands in agony. Everything seems gone wrong.While politicians slug it out and their narrative grabs the headlines, something else is under attack. The travel spirit is locked down. It is also most threatened and even demeaned. Isn’t that what caused this curse to scatter all over?
Reason is the first casualty in any catastrophe. And catastrophe it is, undoubtedly. And it is here that Andre Gide’s words find their relevance. The joys of travel come from some sort of excitement of un-knowing.
There is a tragedy unfolding undoubtedly. But there is a yet to be perceived re-germination of hope. Blind consumption and thick-headed hedonism has been shown its place. Nature has just given the world a hit in the gut. With predatory humans in lockdown, it has also shown how it celebrates a revival.
Trump wants business as usual immediately. Just out of the hospital, Boris is saying the worst is over. China has already celebrated the return of normalcy to rub it in. It seems everyone wants a return to where the world was and that’s not a good place to go. It is not a pretty picture indeed. How will the tourism business grapple with it?
Only responsible tourism, among other things, will be the long term solution. This time, perhaps, not as a fad but hopefully as a compulsion.