The Hardest Part of Traveling in Pandemic
The tourist crisis that nobody is talking about and how we can help
At the beginning of November, I decided to start traveling again.
After reading all the protocols that the airlines are using, reviewing the places that are opening, and buying all the hygiene items that I needed, I felt that I was ready to be “free” again and enjoy a passion that was closed for more than 8 months.
But what I was not prepared for was what I was going to see in the destination country: the post-pandemic crisis and everything that has come with it.
According to Yelp data, 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent. Throughout the past eight months, restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues have been hit the hardest by the restrictions brought by the pandemic: more than 32,000 restaurants have closed, as of Nov. 1. The number of restaurants forced to permanently close is slightly above Yelp’s total average, at 61%.
But that’s not all.
The businesses that have remained open have faced a rather difficult task: convincing customers that eating, shopping, or even just being in their businesses is safe.
My experience as a tourist in New York
Seeing New York so empty is pretty depressing. There is practically no one on the street, there are parking spaces wherever you want, and you no longer have to stand in line to take a decent photo over the famous Times Square staircase.
The worst part was deciding where we were going to eat. Practically all the owners of restaurants that are still open begged us to go eat there, while we are walking, we see empty businesses and waiters looking for a way to attract people.
A man was even going to give us free drinks if we ate there.
The post-pandemic crisis is something almost no one is talking about. We are focused on “getting back to our normal life” on “stopping using masks” or “please stay home” that we are forgetting about all the things that are being lost in this process.
While 4.2 million businesses have received emergency loans from the Small Business Administration, it’s a fraction of the 30 million small firms in the nation. Many small-business owners say Congress’ financial rescue isn’t designed well to help very small businesses, known as micro firms, that have large overhead costs such as rent.
What we can do to help small businesses
In the middle of this crisis, supporting our local communities is more important than ever. But as cities and towns ask their residents to stay home to slow the spread of the virus, many of us are grappling with how to be there for each other when we can’t be physically close to each other.
When I returned home, I have been looking for ways to help as much as I can in the businesses around me. For example, since I am not going out to work, I am saving my gas money, and that fund I can use for donations or buy something for a small business that I need.
If you don’t currently need something, there are also small local businesses that I am connected with that have asked customers to purchase gift certificates during this time.
If you’re still working, then go out for lunch on a Sunday. Order food for delivery. Buy something you need from a private seller instead of going to Walmart. Many people at the moment are looking for a way to continue surviving and open every day despite the circumstances.
No matter how big or small, any support you can offer is positive and impactful during these difficult times. Now more than ever, our cities need us to create innovative and equitable change.