Socio-spatial proximity and distancing in (post)pandemic tourism: Balancing the desire for leisure with disease prevention – ProxyTourS
ProxyTourS proposes interrogating the new social geography of tourist mobilities in the age of the novel Coronavirus. By analysing the dynamics of spatial proximity and social distancing in relation to tourism, new knowledge will prove useful to manage the anticipated sanitarian crisis. Contemporary tourism is characterised by high spatial density, as witnessed in hyper-touristified cities and seaside destinations in summer time. In addition, tourist supply chains, emphasize connecting ‘global’ cities with more peripheral and remote locations, such as mountainous areas. Consequently, viewed alongside the re-opening of other business activities and transport flows, tourist mobilities emerge as particularly problematic. The desire for leisure activities, holiday and travel was very evident during the summer season of 2020. Sometimes, the yearning to take advantage of leisure opportunities overcame the rules introduced to regulate collective spaces. Meanwhile, the fear of infection has itself influenced tourist behaviours, together with newly imposed restrictions that affect the accessibility of specific destinations. ProxyTourS intends to monitor the advertising campaigns actuated by international and national tourism agencies, and to closely observe tourism stakeholders’ recovery strategies, covering the perspectives of operators, tourists, and residents adopting a multi-scalar and multi-actorial research perspective. The minimum funding for this research would be 10.000 euros, which would then finance 6 months of research. Beside the analysis of policy documents and advertisement campaigns, ethnography (including digital ethnography) will be used to focus on tourism stakeholders’ practices and the ways in which socio-spatial proximity and distancing are reshaping the lived space of (post)pandemic tourism. Understanding tourism as it emerges ‘on the ground’ will produce information to contain new waves of virus diffusion, and support more effective health protection measures.