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The Changing Landscape of Tourism

It started as irresistible clickbait. Places you can no longer see either because they no longer exist, or they are no longer accessible. It was compelling enough for me to suffer through panel after panel of ads upon ads to see each featured item. Some physically no longer existed ― like the rock formation that after thousands of years collapsed, or the magnificent building that burnt to the ground. Others fell prey to changing local regulations that changed how many can visit or where they can go once there. The bottom line remains: If you haven’t seen it already, you never will.

Other places have limitations based on your health and finance. Not just COVID restrictions, but limitations of personal health. I always remember stories of my father-in-law who saw Machu Picchu in his 80s with advanced COPD. Yes, he got to see it, but it was not nearly as enjoyable as it would have been during his more youthful times of better respiratory health. And then there are financial changes that can create insurmountable obstacles, such as the lucrative pension that went belly up, or the medical disaster that wiped out the comfort zone of the nest egg. It may not change that beach getaway, but it could kill that exotic South Pacific Island extravaganza ―or that European dream vacation.

The life and health of family and friends can also impact your opportunities. How I wish my mother’s first trip to Europe wasn’t so late in life. She longed to return, unaware that the following year she would be gone. Those plans got scuttled. Sometimes, obstacles are pleasant, such as the family member or friend who temporarily has less travel freedom due to a new job or child.

Alas, while many dreams will not materialize, there are many that will ― provided you jump on the opportunity when you can. Think of the classic line “nobody ever sat on their death bed wishing they spent more time at the office.” Or modify that with more time doing chores or leaving a larger inheritance behind. What do people remember? Good times, good places, good people, and good events. Like anything else in life, it’s hard to plan with so many unknowns. But at least there are some knowns. You know each day you are a little older and your remaining days are a little fewer. Your health and family members may change. But the dreams are there to be captured. Not all are huge like the South Pacific island tour. Many are easily attainable, such as the getaway to the Shenandoah to watch the leaves change, the bucolic canoe trip, the corn maze in the country, or the wine festival.

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