Tourism in Protected Areas amid Covid-19

We’re delighted to have contributed to the March 2021 Special Edition of PARKS on “COVID-19 and Protected and Conserved Areas”. Within the journal is a paper written by several members of the IUCN WCPA Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist group on the impacts of the pandemic. The paper examines how the pandemic has impacted protected areas and lessons learnt. As part of the group, The Long Run contributed numerous case studies demonstrating the exceptional resilience of our members during this challenging time. 


Thanks to authors Adrian Phillips and Brent A. Mitchell from ICUN WCPA, and Chair Anna Spenceley. 


Here’s a summary of the paper:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a global impact on the tourism sector. With tourism numbers dramatically reduced, millions of jobs could be lost, and progress made in equality and sustainable economic growth could be rolled back. Widespread reports of dramatic changes to protected and conserved area visitation have negative consequences for conservation finances, tourism businesses and the livelihoods of people who supply labour, goods and services to tourists and tourism businesses. This paper aims to share experiences from around the world on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on protected area tourism; and considers how to build resilience within protected area tourism as a regenerative conservation tool.”


The introduction outlines: What have been the impacts of COVID-19 on PCAs and the peoples and economies associated with them? 

Findings include: 

  • The impacts occurring in PCAs near cities have been of a different kind.
  • Tourism has borne the brunt of the economic impact of the pandemic.
  • Ranger services have been thrown into the frontline. 
  • The pandemic has hit those who most depend on nature and natural resources the hardest. 
  • Necessity has been the mother of invention.
  • The pandemic has thrown into sharp relief many problems that were already well known.
  • But it has also revealed the need that people have for nature. 


Here’s a snippet from The Long Run’s case studies:

“Since the onset of the pandemic, members of The Long Run have held weekly brainstorming events to share lessons on how to help affected local communities. For example, Kualoa Ranch in Hawaii increased agricultural production and established a weekly farmers’ market; Nikoi and Cempedak resorts in Indonesia brought back furloughed employees with the help of a community beach clean-up, Seven Clean Seas, to clear waste from beaches on Bintan Island; Caiman Ecological Refuge in Brazil developed tourism reopening protocols with the Brazilian government; Borana in Kenya channelled funds to its Mobile Clinic, visited by more than 700 people each month from vulnerable, remote communities.” 


The PARKS special issue is an initiative of the COVID-19 and Protected Areas Task Force of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. To access the special issue please visit download the open access papers from the Special Edition page:

Nikoi and Cempedak Island employees turned to beach cleaning with Seven Clean Seas during the pandemic.

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