The tourism industry has been especially hard-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. Tourists have effectively disappeared all around the world, as entire fleets of airlines are grounded, restaurants and bars shut doors, and mandatory self-isolation laws discourage anyone from leaving home.
But what has happened to all those tourism hotspots, normally crowded with sightseers? While many sights are now empty, others are illuminated with spectacular light shows. One street in Paris has been frozen in the middle of a WW2-themed film shoot. A valuable Van Gogh painting was stolen during lockdown. Ugandan gorillas are in lockdown in their mountain homes. Even Mount Everest is closed to hikers.
Major tourist sights are sending out messages
Major sights around the world show the most obvious effects of tourist numbers crashing. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Forbidden City in Beijing, New York’s Times Square – these places are usually known for having huge crowds of people passing by at all times. Now, they’re empty. But there’s still some inventive ideas going on.
Coronavirus Light Projections on the Great Pyramid of Giza
Egypt has started using their most iconic landmark, the Great Pyramid of Giza, as a way of communicating information to their population. Using a spectacular light show against a crimson backdrop, the words ‘Stay home, Stay safe, Thank you to those keeping us safe‘ have been projected onto the side of the millennia-old pyramid in both English and Arabic.
The Eiffel Tower says Merci
The Eiffel Tower has used its position as a famous landmark to communicate certain ideas in the past; it’s had the huge inflatable soccer ball for the World Cup, it went dark after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, and projected the tricolour after the 2015 attacks.
Now, it has one word: Merci. Merci to all the health workers who are working so hard to combat Coronavirus, as well as caregivers, police, soldiers, and many more who are doing all they can. It’s also been giving advice in its own way, sometimes projecting: ‘Restez chez vous‘ (Stay at home).
Skiing in Switzerland is off, but the Matterhorn has a message
In the shadow of Switzerland’s most famous mountain, the Zermatt ski resort has begun projecting a message onto the jagged peak of the Matterhorn mountain. In red light, artist Gerry Hofstetter shines the word #hope, #stayhome, and the swiss flag onto the pyramid-shaped summit of the mountain.
The Loch Ness monster is wearing a face mask
The Loch Ness monster is taking steps to stay safe, too! Some cheeky locals have attached a face mask to a giant statue of Nessie in the Scottish city of Inverness, to spread the message of safety.
But that’s not all…
There are plenty more illuminations, too. Other buildings lit up with light displays and messages include The Shard in London, the Burj Khalifa, Tehran’s Azadi Tower, Wynn Las Vegas, Christ the Redeemer, and many more!
The interesting side effects of no tourists
It’s been noted that pollution levels have greatly dropped in countries with locked-down populations, an interesting after-effect of coronavirus. But there are also some interesting and unexpected side effects from coronavirus and lockdown.
The Paris streets stuck in WW2
In Montmartre, Paris, two streets had been transformed into a WW2-era set for a movie. Rue Berthe and Rue Androuet, near the Sacré-Coeur basilica, had fake shop fronts installed to look like a Nazi-occupied scene. With Coronavirus swooping in so quickly, and mandatory lockdown in place, the streets are now stuck like that, frozen in 1942 for the next few months!
A Van Gogh painting was stolen during Dutch lockdown
For some brave thieves, Dutch art under lockdown presented the perfect opportunity for a daring heist. In early March, the Singer Laren Museum outside of Amsterdam closed its doors in response to the Coronavirus spread. On the 30th of March, thieves broke into the museum and stole Van Gogh’s The Parsonage Garden at Nuenan in Spring 1884. The masterpiece was on loan from the Groningen museum, and has not been found yet.
Venice’s canals are clear and clean
One of the hardest hit countries, Italy, is in the midst of a full-scale lockdown to combat their horrible infection rates. The city of Venice is known for its romantic canals and boat rides. Without any more tourist boats churning up the fine sediment of the canals, the waters look crystal clear, and locals report seeing the canal bed, schools of fish and swans back in their city, and even reports of dolphins!
Australia’s beaches are crawling with police
As stage 2 lockdown was put in place across Australia, many Australians obediently complied. …or did they? In fact, nothing stopped sunbaking Sydneysiders from packing Bondi beach as full as possible on one sunny Sunday in March.
The response from the government was immediate, and Bondi Beach was closed off from the public (save from a few die-hard beachgoers who risked jumping the fence). Now, Australia’s most famous beach is deserted. Several weeks later, a similar incident happened on Melbourne’s St Kilda beach.
Singapore’s golf courses are booming
Gyms and sporting venues in Singapore are closed due to COVID-19, but there’s a loophole which has been discovered. Golf courses are still open for business, and they’re seeing large numbers of customers. Golf is open air, it’s considered exercise, and there’s limited contact with other people. Some precautionary measures are in place, such as temperature screening, and one-person-per-buggy rules.
Coronavirus affecting animals in tourist hotspots
Many tourist destinations around the world are well-known for their resident animals. Sometimes they are welcome symbols of the city, attracting people who want to encounter them. Other times, they’re a pest, who steal snacks and harass visitors.
Deer in Nara, Japan wandering the city
Nara is a slow-paced Japanese city with pretty, walkable streets and an expansive park filled a thousand-odd resident deer. Even their mascot ia a cute cartoon deer! Tourists can buy special deer crackers to feed to the polite animals, who bow gratefully before receiving their treat.
With tourist numbers dried up, some of the deer who normally stay in the forest and park have been wandering through the streets of the city. Deer have been photographed in herds in the street, and even down in the subway system.
Luckily for the deer, the locals are accustomed to giving them right of way on the roads, and their lives spent mostly in the park mean they shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something to eat.
Penguins run free in the aquarium
Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium is closed to visitors now. However, the staff are still onside 24/7 to care for the animals under their care. This is good news for the resident penguins, who have been released from their usual enclosure, and are given free reign to explore the aquarium at their leisure!
Live streaming of zoos and aquariums
In countries where lockdown laws are put in place, many zoos and aquariums are closed to the public. To help people enjoy the animals from the safety of their homes, a lot of these places have begun live streaming of the enclosures over their websites.
Some notable examples are San Diego Zoo (with pandas, penguins and baboons!), Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Australia, Houston Zoo (for Rhinos and chimps), Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, and Monterey Aquarium.
Monkey swarms in Lopburi, Thailand
Lopburi, in the north of Thailand, is home to the Phra Prang Sam Yot monkey temple, which is home to huge troupes of macaque monkeys. The monkeys are a major tourist draw for Lopburi, and there’s even a festival dedicated to offering them food.
Now that tourists aren’t coming any more, the free food has stopped, and hundreds of monkeys have been spotted swarming all over the city, terrorising humans, other monkeys and stealing what food they can.
The effect of Coronavirus on African safaris and gorillas
Safari operators all over Africa are feeling the decrease in tourist numbers, as African nations implement more and more precautions, as well as countries all over the world forbidding international travel. This is bad news for those safari companies, who are running into problems in their businesses. While previous outbreaks of ebola hurt the industry, Coronavirus is much more damaging so far.
Animals in African national parks do not need humans for feeding or other support, and will be effectively untouched by the pandemic. In Uganda, however, there is growing concerns for the gorilla populations, who have been known to contract human diseases. According to The Washington Post, the common cold has been known to kill gorillas, so all visitors are barred until June (at the time of writing).
The long road to recovery
The impact of Coronavirus on the world of tourism is the most disruptive event in recent memory. Airlines, hotels and travel companies have a long road ahead to get back on their feet.
But one thing is certain – when the pandemic eventually ends, people will always be hungry to travel again.