Shoals of tiny fish, scuttling crabs and multi-coloured plant-life…
If you think we’re describing some deserted reef, think again. This is a description of one of Venice’s city centre canals – right now.
Gloria Beggiato, who owns the famous Metropole Hotel, near St Mark’s square, has been telling The Guardian newspaper about how the Covid-19 lockdown has transformed La Serenissima’s waterways and how wildlife is returning to the tourist-free city.
“We Venetians have the feeling that nature has returned and is taking back possession of the city,” she said, speaking to the Guardian.
Don’t think for a minute that at Sustainable Travel Ireland we are underestimating the disaster of the coronavirus pandemic. We have watched the news stories from Italy and Spain with horror. We are worried about our family members who are frontline hospital workers and our elderly parents who are cocooning.
We are also well too aware that this pandemic has been a vicious blow to tourism businesses like yours. Our own sister company Vagabond has had to cancel tours for all of March and April, and perhaps beyond.
Nature And Covid-19
But, while we’re working from home and self-isolating, we’ve also been reflecting. A lot. And noticing nature. A lot.
It seems a lot the natural world is doing a dance right now and relishing having so much of the world all to itself for a while.
In Bergamo, those ridiculously cute wild boar piglets pictured above were spotted scampering along a suburban road.
On a positive note, at least nature is returning to our cities. This is from Bergamo, Italy… pic.twitter.com/VvUUPt3WZg
— Robert Woodshaw (@robertwoodshaw) March 30, 2020
And in the UK, moles are being spotted foraging above ground.
I’m lucky enough to have a stretch of tidal river outside my window. From time to time, when the tide is in at dawn we spot a shy seal (or maybe, just maybe, it’s an otter). But now with the place so quiet, he’s visiting at all hours. We still haven’t managed to get a snap of him yet though.
One of my colleagues also commented that she had noticed a much bigger variety of bird song in her garden than ever before.
It’s hard to know if nature is more vibrant or in this newly quiet world – without traffic and aeroplane noise – are we just noticing it more?
Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
So that’s been taking up a big part of our reflecting…along with how important it is that somehow we find a way for our absolutely essential tourism businesses – which are critical to our economy, our communities and our livelihoods – and nature to coexist.
We’ve also been thinking that with the extra downtime we have right now, that maybe it’s the perfect moment to make changes and plan to make sure that’s possible. Isn’t that that the whole point of downtime and reflection?
And it seems I’m not alone in thinking this.
Learn More About Sustainable Tourism
As Beggiato so eloquently put it in her conversation with The Guardian, “If you ask me today – sunny blue skies, clear canals – then, yes, we would all like Venice to stay like this for a while. But we need, and look forward to, the return of tourists, though maybe not the 20 million a year that we have had to cope with.
“I honestly believe we should take the opportunity of this lockdown to reflect and see how we can be more organised in the future to find a balance between the city and tourism.”
If you too have time now to examine your business and to put in place plans to make it more sustainable – or you would like to find out how you can do this – for a limited time only, we are offering you the chance to take one of our online courses in Sustainable Tourism for FREE. This is a brilliant chance to help you make the most of this precious downtime.
Our courses are easy-to-follow and they will save your business money too.
Of course, we’d like to meet you face to face down the road, but in the meantime, we’ll be available online to help you on this socially distanced journey to a future with more sustainable tourism – and hopefully more nature too – at its core.
Please also feel free to get in touch with us and tell us how you’re getting on. We’d love to learn more about your business and your journey to sustainability.